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November 8, 2009Sumter, South Carolina offensive lineman Marques Pair has been committed to Tennessee since the Summer, but Saturday he realized why he made that choice.
"I was real impressed by the atmosphere," Pair said of his official visit to Knoxville. "It was amazing. The way the fans treated the players was just off the wall. Man, it was just a great visit overall."
Pair was one of two official visitors over the weekend and he was blown away by the Big Orange faithful who showed Pair love before and after the game.
"Fans recognized me," Pair said. "It was like I was already playing there. It surprised that they knew who I was and I'm just in high school. It makes me feel more comfortable with everything. I can just come up there and play football."
Outside of the fan fair that came with Pair's official visit, he was really happy to get a chance to see the University from an academic side.
"We went over the academics stuff," Pair said. "We went on a campus tour and just got to see all that's involved with being a student athlete there. I'm pumped for next year."
Pair and his Sumter team are 9-2 on the season as the playoffs rapidly approach. It's been a great run down the home stretch of the season for a team that is playing balanced.
"At first we were struggling," Pair said. "But we become a family and gelled together. It's been smooth sailing since then. We've held each other accountable. Defensively we are really good against the run. Offensively, we run the spread and we are really balanced."
A quiet guy off the field, Pair doesn't do a lot of talking on the field either.
"I get my team fired up and my offensive line fired up, but I don't do a lot of talking," Pair said. "I let my play do the talking."
Sumter lost in the state championship game last season to a Byrnes team that has fellow Vol commitments Corey Miller and Brandon Willis. That matchup is possible during the third round of this year's playoffs. It's a potential matchup that would feature three future Vols.
"We have to play our hardest," Pair said. "It's going to be the team that makes the least mistakes. If we make it to that game, we just have to play it one play at a time."
Pair and the Byrnes duo have become friends during the past year and they have a lot of Palmetto pride about their future in orange.
"We've talked about it," Pair said. "We are all excited about it and we are all comfortable with each other and the players there."