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Five things I learned this weekend

10/17/2011

The Levenberrys like the Vols

Following a weekend trip to Tennessee, E.J. Levenberry's family was plenty impressed with the game day atmosphere in Neyland Stadium despite a 38-7 loss to LSU on Saturday.

“They take this football stuff seriously in Tennessee,” the junior linebacker's father, Eric Levenberry, E.J.'s father, said as the family was driving home to Virginia on Sunday. “Sitting next to each other, you could hardly hear each other.”

Levenberry, a ESPNU Watch List LB from Woodbridge (Va.) C.D. Hylton, currently has a top six among his many suitors: Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida State, Auburn, Florida and LSU. Eric Levenberry said that list is very fluid considering his son is just a junior and is still fielding regular new scholarship offers.

Notre Dame was the latest school to offer a scholarship, doing so last week. However, South Bend, Ind., seems an unlikely destination for Levenberry, who has strongly indicated that he'd like to play football in a warm weather environment.

“It was nice,” Levenberry said of the offer from the Fighting Irish. “I don't really want to play in the cold weather but it was nice. ... I love the heat but I can't stand the cold.”

The trip to Tennessee served many purposes aside from evaluating the game day atmosphere in Knoxville. Levenberry was also able to further his relationship with Tennessee's coaches and freshman linebacker Curt Maggitt, whom he has become close with since meeting earlier this year. After the game, Levenberry was also able to meet LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who is a distant cousin.

LSU could prove to be strong factor in Levenberrry's recruitment as his mother's family is from Louisiana and still resides there. The family has long maintained that distance from home will not be a factor in Levenberry's decision.

As for the Vols, the Levenberrys raved about the trip, specifically how impressed they were that some fans in Neyland Stadium recognized E.J. and chanted his name during the game. A strong relationship with linebacker coach Peter Sirmon, who is recruiting Levenberry, should also be a factor.

The Levenberrys have long said that a strong relationship with a school's position coach will be a significant factor in Levenberry's decision.

Oklahoma is firmly in the running for Levenberry and Sooners coach Brent Venables has been extremely effective recruiting Levenberry.

“He showed me all the film on all the previous linebackers he had that played as a freshman,” Levenberry said.

As for Florida State, it has a melodic appeal.

“The war chant, I love the war chant,” Levenberry said of the Seminoles' cheer.

Battle ground state

Landing Carlos Watkins was a huge pickup for Clemson, although it was hardly a surprise that the four-star defensive tackle from Forest City (N.C.) Chase turned his back on the in-state Tar Heels. Watkins actually lives closer to Clemson's campus than North Carolina's.

The decision is a loss for Florida, which finished second for Watkins. Many thought the Gators were in great shape to land the 6-foot-3, 280-pound defensive tackle, especially when the Gators backed off Jordan Watkins from College Park (Ga.) Woodward this summer. Jordan Watkins eventually committed to Stanford.

As has traditionally been the case, prospects in North Carolina are bolting the state with great regularity. Of the 16 four and five-star prospects in the state, only one has committed to North Carolina: offensive lineman J.J. Patterson from Roanoke Rapids (N.C.) High School. Clemson and Florida have both nabbed two.

Clemson can't get hotter

With Watkins in the fold, Clemson has 19 commitments and six in the ESPN150. With limited scholarships to offer, that should just about do it for the Tigers' 2011 class, although they'll keep chasing a couple of prospects until national signing day, namely defensive tackle Eddie Goldman from Washington (D.C.) Friendship. Clemson's class won't rank as the top in the nation, but that's only because of its small size. Instead, they'll be one of the nation's best in terms of top talent.

Oh, and the Tigers also came back from an 18-point deficit to beat Maryland 56-45 on Saturday to improve to 7-0. This is the type of momentum that will benefit the Tigers for years in recruiting.

Bully on Bullard?

Defensive end Jonathan Bullard visited Knoxville this weekend for the LSU game. That's a good sign for Tennessee, even though the defensive tackle from Shelby (N.C.) Crest seems like a long shot for the Vols. Florida, Nebraska and South Carolina have the best chance to land Bullard.

Top five from Ekanem

Ken Ekanem announced his top five schools: North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oregon, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. Don't expect much more movement anytime soon as the linebacker from Centerville (Va.) Clifton isn't scheduled to make any official visits until after the season.