- Dave Hooker, Reporter, RecruitingNation
Florida State has some strong competition for E.J. Levenberry.
"This is tough for him," said the four-star prospect's father, Eric Levenberry, after the family took an official visit to Tennessee last weekend.
Levenberry, an ESPN 300 prospect, committed to Florida State in April. However, the Vols have made a strong push recently for the linebacker from Woodbridge (Va.) Hylton, especially since former Cincinnati coach Butch Jones was hired in December. Jones and his staff have made such a positive impression that Levenberry agreed to take an official visit last weekend.
"Tennessee's facilities are off the chart and they are telling him he will play a major role as a freshman," Eric Levenberry said. "They have a great nutritionist and a great strength program. Therefore, I know they will develop his body."
Tennessee was once thought to be in the lead for Levenberry. The Vols made a strong impression on the entire Levenberry family before Sal Sunseri was hired from Alabama as Tennessee's defensive coordinator in January 2012.
Sunseri didn't actively recruit the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Levenberry when he was at Alabama. He also didn't recruit him actively while at Tennessee. That prompted Levenberry to commit to Florida State over Oklahoma and several other schools. Sunseri was hired as Florida State's defensive ends coach in December.
During his visit, Tennessee pulled out the big guns for Levenberry. A meeting with athletic director Dave Hart was a highlight of the trip.
"The A.D. at Tennessee also let E.J. know how important he is to this class during our visit," Eric Levenberry said. "Tennessee is the first school that the A.D. has let him know how important he is to them."
Still, the Vols have a battle on their hands. E.J. Levenberry has strong ties to the Seminoles. He has become close to defensive line coach Odell Haggins, linebackers coach Charles Kelly and head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Levenberry is also close to Florida State freshman Ronald Darby, who signed with Florida State out of Oxon Hill (Md.) Potomac last year. He is now a freshman defensive back for the Seminoles.
"E.J. has a great relationship with Coach Haggins, Coach Kelly and Coach Fisher," Eric Levenberry said. "They have his major and great weather. He considers Ronald Darby as his friend and he loves FSU."
Levenberry said his son is so conflicted that he might not even sign with his chosen school on national signing day.
"I have not talked to him at all," the elder Levenberry said. "Giving him space."