During a four-school SEC/ACC recruiting trip last week, Naples running back Carlin Fils-Aime left his heart in Rocky Top.
The three-star recruit announced he made a verbal commitment to Tennessee Thursday morning, choosing the the Volunteers over Auburn.
“As of today, I am a Tennessee commit,” Fils-Aime said on Twitter.
Fils-Aime is the third senior from Collier County to commit to a school from the “Power 5” conferences this year as teammate Tyler Byrd pledged to Miami in February and Gulf Coast safety Lukas Masterson committed to Wake Forest Monday.
Last week Fils-Aime, who rushed for 873 yards and scored 15 touchdowns as a sophomore, made a week-long trip through the Southeast, visiting Auburn, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. He visited Miami earlier in the process.
“He was very thoughtful about (the decision). Very careful about it,” Naples coach Bill Kramer said. “All of them were great choices. … I’m proud how he went about it.”
“Ultimately, it came down to the support system the schools had academically and athletically. Tennessee had all of that. There wasn’t one part of it that he felt was lacking.”
Auburn had a slight lead after his visit to the Plains on July 17, but his July 23 trip to Knoxville stayed with him.
Third-year Vols running backs coach Robert Gillespie was instrumental in Fils-Aime’s recruitment. Tennessee is coming off its first winning season since 2009 in its second season under head coach Butch Jones.
Despite a junior season that was cut short by a high ankle sprain in Week 3, college coaches stayed hot on Fils-Aime’s trail. Ranked No. 12 among senior running backs by ESPN, he showed tremendous acceleration, vision and balance in a 150-yard, four-touchdown performance in May’s spring game victory over North Miami.
That put any questions recruiters had to rest.
Verbal commitments are non-binding and recruits from the Class of 2016 can’t sign National Letters of Intent until Feb. 3.