Sullivan East's Dakota Deel (33) gets congratulated by Dayne Davis after Deel forced a Union County fumble and recovered the ball in a game played in September.

Sullivan East High School’s big man is getting an opportunity to play big-time college football.

Dayne Davis, a 6-foot-7, 315-pound lineman, will attend the University of Tennessee as a preferred walk-on for the Volunteers.

You could say this development is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

“I’ve been a Tennessee fan since I was born,” Davis said. “My first outfit was orange and white.”

Davis had been on the radar of UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff for a few months.

“I got the offer this past weekend on my unofficial visit,” Davis said. “They liked me and my skill set at camp this past summer and [Pruitt] told me that he’d keep in touch, so he did and invited me to campus and we met with him and the other coaches and they let me know that they’d love to have me at Tennessee and thought that I’d be a great asset to the program.”

Davis made 65 tackles this season as a defensive tackle and paved the way up front on the offensive side in being a first-team All-Northeast Conference selection. He’s also a standout on the basketball court.

“Dayne has been a mainstay for us on both sides of the football and on special teams, where he handled our snapping duties,” said East football coach Mike Locke. “He did it all and rarely got to take a break. … I was impressed by his work ethic and how he improved each year in the program. Dayne has worked hard to shape himself into a good football and basketball player. We are excited to see him get this opportunity and are wishing him great success.”

Having originally committed to NCAA Division II Tusculum, Davis also had offers from Austin Peay, Rhodes College, the University of the Cumberlands, Culver-Stockton, Bethel and McPherson, while Tennessee Tech, Southeast Missouri, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee-Martin had shown serious interest.

The Tennessee proposal was too good to pass up, however.

“No brainer,” Davis said. “It’s a chance to work my [butt] off and earn a scholarship within the next two years. I will be a redshirt my first year.”

Davis put in the work and is now getting rewarded. A ceremony was held in Sullivan East’s library on Thursday to honor the achievement.

“My faith in Jesus Christ and my family and coaches were a huge part of my success and I want to thank them and the community for the constant outreach and support this year,” Davis said. “I’ve never felt so ready to just get somewhere and get to work after they told me that they wanted me.”

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