More Prospects Ready to Make Their Picks

An update on Auburn football recruiting is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--On the eve of national signing day for football prospects, Auburn is in the mix to pick up a pair of high school seniors who are expected to announce decisions on Tuesday.

At noon in the library of West End High School, defensive end prospect Deantwan Whitehead is expected to announce his college choice.

"It's extremely tough," the 6-6, 245, 4.7 defensive end known as "Peanut" says about making his decision on where he will attend college.

He took his final official visit to Alabama over the weekend after getting visits and phone calls last week from the other three schools on his radar--Auburn, Tennessee and the University of Louisville.

Earlier in the recruiting process, he considered Arkansas and Clemson and a variety of others, but narrowed his list of finalists after an impressive senior season in which he made 125 tackles, including 25 sacks and 17 other tackles behind the line of scrimmage. That was particularly impressive bouncing back from an ACL injury that sidelined him the previous season for all but four games.

The big defensive end hasn't tipped his hand on where he is going to sign, although he has talked about the advantages of staying close to home.

Commenting on the factors that he will base his decision on, Whitehead says academics and early playing time are major factors. "I need to go to a school where I can play early because I don't want to redshirt."

Whitehead, who is known around West End High as "Peanut," says, "My grandmother gave me that name when I was little and it has stuck with me. Everybody calls me Peanut from my principal at school, to my coach, to all my teachers and friends."

On Tuesday evening at Lovejoy, Ga., High, there will be a party for Auburn verbal commitment Mario Fannin and a large group of his teammates where they will have the opportunity to announce their college choices.

Fannin, who played quarterback for Lovejoy this year, is planning to sign with the Tigers on Wednesday to play tailback. He says that he hopes teammate Byron Isom, a defensive and offensive lineman, joins him at Auburn and notes that he has been trying to convince his friend to sign with the Tigers.

Isom, who last week planned to sign with South Carolina before having second thoughts, is still undecided, notes Lovejoy High head coach Al Hughes.

"If he doesn't announce it on Tuesday night, I will be ready to break his plate," says the coach, who will be throwing a party for his large group of seniors who plan to sign football scholarships on Wednesday. "Right now we have 11 players planning to sign and it could be more because we have five more who are undecided," he says.

"We call it a press conference," the coach adds. "What we do is set up the commons really nice and invite newspapers, radio and local TV and the county TV system. The superintendent comes and we get them in the commons, brag on them, introduce them and let them get up there and put a hat on and say I am going to attend Auburn University or whatever and let them say whatever they like as parting seniors to our underclassmen. Then we have some punch, cake and that sort of thing."

Byron Isom

Hughes says that Isom has been really struggling to make his decision. The coach notes that he remembers a recruit who deliberated for six hours going over a checklist on signing day before deciding to fax his scholarship papers to a college. "I wish Byron would hurry up on his decision," Hughes says. "This one is giving me a headache."

Defensive tackle Aleric Mullins from East Wake High in Wendell, N.C., had previously planned to announce his college choice on Tuesday, but is now expected to do that Wednesday at the ESPN Zone in Charlotte. He visited the University of North Carolina Tar Heels this past weekend and is also considering Tennessee along with Auburn. Mullins, who visited Auburn in December, says that he is impressed with AU defensive line coach Don Dunn and the entire Auburn program.

Corey Peters, a defensive lineman from Central High in Louisville, Ky., is expected to announce his pick on Wednesday, too, from the colleges where he took official visits. His mother, Vanessa Peters, says, "He is still considering all five schools--Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan and Auburn."

Two south Florida standouts, defensive end Bryant Miller from Miami and defensive tackle Charles Deas from Fort Lauderdale, are not expected to announce their choices until Wednesday. Auburn looks to be the team to beat for Miller, who says he really enjoyed his official visit to Auburn Jan. 13-15. The Central High standout took his final visit to Michigan the week after checking out the Tigers.

Deas visited Auburn the same weekend as Miller and wrapped up his visit schedule this past weekend to LSU after taking a long trip out to Nebraska following his Auburn trip. FSU looks to be in the mix, too, for a prospect who says he won't name a leader until he announces his choice on Wednesday.

Adam Patterson, a defensive lineman from Columbia, S.C., visited Auburn this past weekend. He is expected to chose between hometown South Carolina or Michigan. Another prospect Auburn had in for an official visit who hasn't publically committed, tight end Michael Goggans of Benjamin Russell High in Alexander City, is expected to sign with Tennessee.


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