Gaithersburg’s picked up a scholarship from Tennessee on Monday. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post)

A week after Tennessee’s football program netted a key area recruit in Friendship Collegiate defensive back D’Andre Payne — the Volunteers proved again Monday night that the program is attempting to make serious inroads into the Washington area under newly hired Coach Butch Jones.

Jones and company offered a scholarship to Gaithersburg running back Solomon Vault Monday, giving the junior speedster his first offer from an SEC school and expanding a list of options that has grown rapidly since November.

“It’s my first SEC offer, and it’s special,” Vault said of Tennessee. “The SEC is obviously in a different league of its own. I think they’ve won the last seven national championships.”

Northwestern also offered Vault a scholarship several weeks ago, a school the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder lauds for its academics. Vault also has offers from Marshall, Old Dominion, Pittsburgh, Massachusetts, Western Michigan and UNC-Charlotte.

Vault, an honorable mention All-Met selection last fall, said he plans to visit Knoxville later this spring or summer. He is well versed in Tennessee running back history, mentioning former Volunteers stars such as Houston Texans All-Pro Arian Foster and Jamal Lewis, who finished his NFL career with more than 10,000 yards rushing, as players who add to the school’s intrigue.

The fact that Jones is working to establish a recruiting presence in the Washington area also is not lost on Vault. He said he heard about the commitment of Payne last week, and that an offer came his way this week is a sign of respect for players in the area, he said.

“I think a lot of the nation is kind of realizing that the DMV has alot talent,” Vault said. “We can make an impact on that level.”

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