Before getting a scholarship offer from Tennessee less than a week ago, Will McBride had no intentions of backing out on his longstanding commitment to Memphis and was just weeks away from joining the Tigers.
But he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play for the Vols.
The three-star senior quarterback from Clear Springs High School in League City, Texas, announced Tuesday night that he has committed to Tennessee, switching his commitment from Memphis to the Vols just five days after they gave him his first SEC offer.
McBride gave Tennessee its 25th known commitment for the 2017 class and the quarterback it had sought since even before the Vols parted ways with former commitment CJ Lewis of Cheshire, Conn., last month.
“Just visiting up there, I felt comfortable with the campus,” said McBride, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1,370 overall prospect and No. 29 dual-threat quarterback in the 247Sports Composite for the 2017 class. “It’s a beautiful place, beautiful facilities. They’ve got everything you can think of, so I felt comfortable on campus.
“I’m excited about the SEC, and I had a lot of comfort when I visited with the coaches. We really had a good time and we connected pretty well, and they definitely let me know that they wanted me. It was good to hear that. I felt wanted. It definitely wasn’t just the logo. I felt wanted over there.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound McBride, who had been committed to the Tigers for nearly six months, went on his official visit to Memphis over the weekend before squeezing in an last-minute official visit to Tennessee on Sunday just before the monthlong, NCAA-mandated dead period for recruiting started Monday morning.
One look at the Vols convinced McBride, who grew up liking LSU, that he didn’t want to pass up the chance to play in the SEC.
“Growing up, it really is just about living out my dream,” McBride said. “Anyone can say it’s SEC football, and obviously that has a lot to do with it. But I definitely feel comfortable with the situation over there. It kind of comes down to just fulfilling my dream, and I also feel like I have a chip on my shoulder and I have things to prove. I’m not the highest-rated guy, and I feel like that will definitely give me some fuel to push myself when I get there.
“The other thing is I want to make sure that the coaching staff at Tennessee and the whole organization knows that they’re getting a guy that’s going to come in and work his tail off and make the most of the opportunity. It’s Tennessee football, and it’s just something I felt like I couldn’t pass up.
“The opportunity is just really a blessing, and I’m going to make the most of it.”
McBride said he and his parents “were leaning toward Tennessee” after discussing his options Monday night, and he didn’t feel any differently Tuesday morning.
“I figured I would sleep on it and wake up and see if I felt the same way,” he said. “I did that, and I woke up and I felt good, and I felt like today’s the day I’m going to become a Vol. It felt good today, and I slept on it and I’m happy with my decision. I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling the same way.”
He said he called Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord and head coach Butch Jones on Tuesday night to inform them of his decision, and “they were both pretty excited.” McBride said he also talked with Memphis coach Mike Norvell before publicly announcing his choice.
With Tennessee looking to replace starting senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs after this season, McBride admitted the chance to compete for the Vols’ starting job as a true freshman played a role in his decision.
He plans to arrive at Tennessee next month as an early enrollee, which will allow him to participate in the Vols’ spring practices.
“It definitely had something to do with it, just the fact that the spot’s wide open and the best guy’s going to play. I truly believe that’s how it should be done,” McBride said.
“And if I’m not the best guy, I’ll be a Volunteer. I’ll do whatever I can to help our team win. But if I am the guy, I’ll do the same thing. I’ll have the same attitude every day. It’s all about winning, and whatever it takes to do that, that’s what’s going to happen. It’s just about the hard work and winning ballgames.”