Four years ago, Tennessee elected not to offer a scholarship to native son Patrick Willis and the move came back to haunt the Volunteers as Willis went on to win the Butkus Award at Ole Miss, be named to All-American teams in both his junior and senior seasons, and selected the overall No. 11 NFL draft selection.
Tennessee is looking to avoid the possibility of duplicating that mistake as they've followed Ole Miss' lead in offering current Rebel commitment Gavin Hardin, a 6-foot-5, 225 pound linebacker who attends Jackson Central Merry High School in Jackson, Tenn.
Tennessee apparently has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to Hardin, who committed to Ole Miss on Feb. 7.
The prep standout camped at Ole Miss last summer, where he first caught the coaches' attention, then attended both Ole Miss' junior day and the Rebels spring game.
Still, the offer left Hardin impressed and the Volunteers not totally out of the picture.
"It was nice," Hardin said of the Tennessee offer. "I've been getting a lot of looks since committing to Ole Miss."
While Hardin emphasizes he's firmly committed to Ole Miss, he feels he owes it to himself to look at other schools.
"I'm mainly looking to see what other schools have to offer outside of football," Hardin said. "I want to see what schools have to offer beyond football in case I can't play football."
"I'm giving Tennessee a look," Hardin continued. "But, I'm not too heavy on them."
Hardin said that Tennessee and Alabama are the two major schools he's looking at and that both are recruiting him hard.
While Alabama is yet to offer, Tennessee offered a couple of weeks ago, according to Hardin.
Meanwhile, Hardin has finished up his spring practice and is concentrating on academics and on his upcoming senior season.
"It was a great spring," Hardin said. "I think I did better than I thought I would this spring."
Hardin said he spent time during his high school's spring practice playing on both sides of the ball.
"I'm focusing on defense, middle linebacker, because that's where I'm going to play in college," Hardin said. "But I also help out on offense, either at running back, fullback, or even some at tight end."
Hardin did take time out to watch the NFL draft and it didn't go unnoticed when Ole Miss' Patrick Willis was selected eleventh overall.
"I was loving it," Hardin said. "I love it anytime a linebacker is drafted. But that just showed me that I can go to Ole Miss and be a high round draft choice if I work and things work out."
Hardin doesn't have any plans to attend any camps this summer, instead taking time to work out in preparation for his final prep season.
He's also concentrating more in the classroom. He currently has a 2.8 average and hopes to have that up to a B average after his grades are final from the current semester. He also recently took the ACT but doesn't have his results back.