Je'Ron Stokes received scholarship offers from 20 major college football programs. Nineteen now must look elsewhere for their next great wideout.

Stokes, a 6-1, 180-pound junior at Northeast High, has made an oral commitment to Tennessee, to which he made an unofficial visit that concluded Saturday before the l-o-n-g drive back to Philly.

"I didn't picture ending the recruiting process this early," Stokes said. "But Tennessee is in my heart. Sometimes, you just know.

"I was still looking hard at Illinois, Oklahoma, Penn State, Minnesota . . . Now, those coaches can develop relationships with other guys instead of still trying to come after me and being hurt."

Stokes, a transfer from Penn Charter, last season caught 28 passes for 617 yards and six touchdowns. His quarterback was his brother, Malik, a sophomore. Je'Ron, long a headliner on the camp/clinic/combine trail due to blazing speed (4.4 for 40 yards) and agility, is in his fourth year of high school, but has been granted an extra year of eligibility by the District 12 committee.

Stokes said he spent some time at Tennessee two years ago and "knew I wanted to get to that level."

He added: "I'm proud I'll be going there from a Public League school. It shows what the league can produce. I hope the big-time programs come back for more guys . . . They like my brother, too."

When asked to detail his reasons for choosing Tennessee, Stokes was off to the quote-machine races.

"I like the stability of the program. Coach [Phillip] Fulmer is a graduate and his daughter's a student, so there are real ties there . . . I like that they didn't make me promises, like that I'd catch 100 balls a year. They just said I'll have a chance to come in and compete early . . . They're in the best football conference in the country and have a chance to compete for the national championship year in, year out . . . They have produced guys like Peyton Manning, Reggie White and Donté Stallworth . . . They give their athletes great academic support at the Thornton Center . . . The warm climate comes into this somewhat. It's better for a passing game."

Stokes said he arrived at his decision Saturday night, after much discussion with family members (mom is Juanita; dad, Ronald, was All-Public at Germantown), then placed calls to Tennessee assistants Larry Slade and Latrell Scott. He left a message for Fulmer yesterday morning.

"Coach Scott was so happy, he was speechless," Stokes said. "I'm their first recruit in the Class of '09. *