Tennesse narrowly defeated Georgia Tech in an intense recruiting battle for Stephenson linebacker Nigel Mitchell-Thornton. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder said he was influenced after a "4-0" vote in favor of Tennessee during a recent meeting with his parents and Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell. All four wrote down a list of five schools which would be the best for Mitchell-Thornton. "Tennessee was No. 1 on all four, and that was important to me, that those people closest to me felt the same way about the same school, " Mitchell-Thornton said. "However, they all told me to think more about it, and that the final decision had to be mine." Mitchell-Thornton finally felt the timing was right, calling Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer: "He thought I just calling to talk. When I committed, he said it was a great day for linebackers because they [Tennessee] had gotten another linebacker commitment just a few minutes earlier." D.T. Shackelford of Decatur, Ala., also committed to Tennessee. Mitchell-Thornton said Tech was the runner-up: "I really like the new coaches and think Georgia Tech's program is going in a great direction. But they are doing a lot of changes on both offense and defense. On defense, it seems like they will be using smaller linebackers who will be used more in coverage. Georgia Tech didn't tell me that, but that's just the way I saw it. I just felt like my style of play fit in better at Tennessee." Thornton-Mitchell's other offers included Stanford, Duke, Mississippi State, Wake Forest and Nebraska, among others.