Family feel drives Hendrix to Tennessee

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It's a family feel, simple as that.

Dewayne Hendrix doesn't have a long, drawn out description of why Tennessee is his school of choice. Rather, he concentrates on comfort, the hometown feeling and the relationships built in Knoxville.

"It will be home for me," Hendrix told InsideTennessee.com. "It was home from the moment I walked on campus."

Adding pure talent to the defensive front is nearly the only way to get ahead in the Southeastern Conference. The coaching staff at Tennessee, led by headman Butch Jones, figured that out in hurry in their first year on The Hill.

Other top defensive linemen like four-Derek Barnett, three-star Joseph Henderson and four-star Davonte Lambert were already on the commit list. Hendrix is a FOX Sports and Scout four-star that fits right in with that group. He said the coaches were "ecstatic" when they got word he wanted to be a Vol.

The No. 11 defensive end in the country was on Rocky Top for the Orange & White game back in late April, only weeks after he picked up his scholarship offer. His latest trip south came with an official visit to see Tennessee nearly upset then-No. 6 Georgia on Oct. 5.

A conversation with Jones cemented the relationship and future.

"(Jones) was really excited about it," Hendrix said. "He just told me to make sure I keep my grades up and my offer is officially locked in."

Uncle Robert Joy is a die-hard Tennessee fan but that allegiance isn't what swung the Illinois native and former Memphis resident to an orange-clad future.

"He (Joy) didn't really push me to go to Tennessee, but he wanted me to go to Tennessee," Hendrix said. "My whole family, they wanted me to go but they didn't push me. They just supported me."

The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder makes commitment No. 28 of the Orange & White's 2014 signing class. He also is the fifth-rated player in Illinois and the second pledge from the Land of Lincoln, joining four-star tight end Daniel Helm.

Hendrix confirmed he will play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif., on Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. PST.

He described his ability that makes him such a highly touted prospect: "I feel like I'm very quick off the edge. I can always be quicker, but I can always improve more."

Hendrix and his O'Fallon (Ill.) High School teammates took down Granite City 63-33 on Friday to qualify for the IHSA Class 8A state playoffs. On Friday, they battle Neuqua Valley in the western suburbs of Chicago in the opening round.

The plan is to arrive at Tennessee in Summer 2014.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the FOX Sports NEXT team July 2011.
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