ASU's defense appealing to Willingham

Denver Mullen High School is a known football powerhouse in the state of Colorado, and Leilon Willingham is one of the standout defensive players for that program. The linebacker has been on ASU's recruiting radar for a while and visited the Sun Devils this past weekend. Devils Digest caught up with Willingham after that trip.

"I loved the game and the environment down there," said the 6-2 235 Leilon Willingham concerning the Arizona StateOregon contest, "and I thought the defense was great and I love how the linebackers play, especially Vontaze (Burfict). He looks like someone I could pick up a lot from for the year or two that we may have together. He's a natural leader out there and I love his style of play."

Willingham, who was visiting Tempe for the very first time, was hosted by his former Mullen teammate Junior Onyeali, which naturally made his visit experience that much more comfortable.

"I was talking to him and a lot of the other players who told me what it was like to be on the team," Willingham remarked. "They told me that the school cares about them as a person too not just a player."

The linebacker stated that one aspect of the visit was especially impressive.

"The academic support they have there was very intriguing to me," Willingham commented. "They showed you how much they care about your studies and want you to succeed."

The linebacker collected 74 tackles in 2009 as he and his teammates finished 14-0 capturing their second straight 5A state title . He reported a 40 time of 4.5 and a power clean mark of 315 lbs.

"The Arizona State coaches want me to fill Vontaze's shoes," Willingham said. "They see me as somebody who can cover sideline to sideline with my speed and who also is a big hitter. I play the SAM right now in high school and the (ASU) coaches said I could play there too."

Colorado was the first school to offer Willingham, who also has offers from Utah, Oregon, Kansas State, Minnesota, Colorado State, Texas A&M, and Central Florida.

"Arizona State was my first official visit," Willingham said. "I don't have dates for other visits but I think I'm going to visit Oregon, Texas A&M, Utah, and Central Florida. I'll probably commit before I take all my visits.

"Arizona State, Oregon and UCF are probably my top three right now."

The Sun Devils have offered Willingham back in March and he is being recruited by the Sun Devils' linebackers coach Trent Bray. Willingham admitted that he and Bray have developed a strong bond the last six or so months.

"I liked that he played linebacker in the Pac-10 and he has played against the spread offenses in that league," Willingham noted. "So he knows as a player what is going on and as a coach he can prepare you for that offense."

Willingham stated that environment is one factor he will strongly consider when he makes his decision.

"I'm also going to look at the coaching staff and the entire football staff," Willingham said. "I need to make sure that I go to a place where I will be comfortable for four years."


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