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Independence's RaShaan Gaulden commits to Tennessee Vols

1:00 AM, Jul. 20, 2013 EDT

Independence safety RaShaan Gaulden, left, said he will sign with Tennessee. / samuel m. simpkins / file / the tennessean

Independence safety RaShaan Gaulden, who had indicated he would not commit prior to his senior season, announced Saturday he will sign with Tennessee.

"There's no reason to wait when I've got a big senior season coming up," said the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Gaulden, who did not play last season after transferring from Brentwood Academy. "I'm just getting this out of the way so I can focus on Friday nights."

As a sophomore, Gaulden led Brentwood Academy with 72.5 tackles, five forced fumbles and four interceptions. Despite sitting out last fall, he received extensive recruiting attention before picking the Volunteers over Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

"It's the best fit for me and my family," he said. "I've really jelled with this class. I've got a great relationship with most of the commits. We have a great camaraderie.

"It's a great fit athletics-wise and academic-wise. I think I'll enjoy my four years here."

Gaulden stands to become part of a 2014 class that also includes Independence teammate and longtime friend Vic Wharton III, who was the first member of the class to commit to first-year UT coach Butch Jones.

Tennessee already has 23 commitments, and the Vols' class is ranked No. 1 nationally by Rivals.com and 247sports.com.

"He felt it was the right time for him as far as the (coaching) staff, the way things had gone with them," Reynold Gaulden said of his son.

"Of the schools that wanted him, they were interested in him and his family and just having him on campus, above any team that has contacted him."



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