New Year, new commitment

A.J. Branisel

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Tennessee is off to a good start in 2013 having gained their first commitment of the New Year in the form of Chardon, Ohio, native A.J. Branisel.

The three-star tight end prospect gave his commitment to Tennessee and head coach Butch Jones making him the 17 commitment of the 2013 class.

The newest Vol took to Twitter to announce his big news to the free world.

"I am officially committed to the University of Tennessee ##VFL #VOLSWAGGER," Branisel said.

Ever since Jones departed Cincinnati Branisel says it has been a waiting game in which he was just deciding when the moment was right to pull to trigger on the Vols.

"I have been close with Coach Jones, Coach (Mark) Elder and all the offensive coaches all along," he said. "When I heard they were going to Tennessee I knew I wanted to go there and I was just waiting till it felt right. We had so much trust and it just wouldn't be worth it to try and build what we already had with another coaching staff."

Branisel is rated as the No. 46 tight end in the 2013 class according to FOX Sports NEXT and addresses a serious position of need for the Volunteers who will be short their leading pass-catching tight end after losing Mychal Rivera to graduation.

"I need to work on my blocking, but I can split the field and make plays in the passing game," Branisel said. "I have good vision on the field and I am a hard-nosed kid that will do anything you ask me to."

Branisel, who had an offer from Tennessee prior to his commitment to Cincinnati will visit the Vols on Jan. 25, but said he didn't need that visit to make his decision.

"Coach Jones is my eyes," Branisel told InsideTennessee.com. "I knew when he called and said that he loved it down there that I was going to love it."

Branisel, 6-foot-4, 225-pounds, caught 35 passes for 536 yards, and scored six touchdowns for Cathedral Latin (Ohio) High School as a junior. Ohio recruiting analyst Bill Greene listed Branisel as one of the top 10 uncommitted prospects in the state of Ohio just before the New Year and while his knowledge of Tennessee is limited, he can't wait to get to Rocky Top.

"I know Tennessee has struggled recently, but I know the fan supports is crazy," Branisel said. "My phone has been blowing up since I committed. It is awesome. We are going to work to get the best prospects there and put something great on the field for our fans."

The senior prospect, who has 4.52 40-yard dash speed, was previously committed to Jones' former team the Cincinnati Bearcats before reopening his commitment following Jones' departure. Branisel chose Tennessee over offers from Louisville, Nebraska and Missouri among others.

You can see highlights of Branisel's junior season below:


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