E.J. Levenberry talks Tenn. and more
"I know that's it's a great, great, great school," E.J. Levenberry said of the Volunteers. "I looked up the facilities on the computer, and they're nice. Coach (Peter) Sirmon is a nice guy. He'd be a great position coach and put me where I needed to be in college. When you look at Peyton Manning and all the other great players who have come through the University, I'm just happy to be given the chance at a program like that."
Levenberry, 6-3, 228, began receiving attention from college coaches since he was in the eighth grade, where he had a great week of practices at the U.S. Army All-American Youth Game. He won best overall player at a regional National Underclassman Combine last summer and went on to compete nationally at the NUC combine in Norman, Okla. He was named top linebacker in the class.
"Playing as a freshman in the WAAC, you're going against the best of the best," Levenberry said. "Most of the players go on to Division 1A or 1AA colleges. As a freshman I had the size, but didn't have the muscle, so I wasn't getting off my blocks as well.
"This year I came in stronger, used my hands better to get off blocks, did a better job of reacting and moved to the ball quicker. I try to imitate Ray Lewis. Ever since I've been alive he's been ‘The Man'. On Sundays, I watch how he plays. You need to play smart. This game is 80-percent mental and 20-percent physical."
Levenberry finished with 80 tackles last season, five sacks, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and a staggering eight forced fumbles playing all linebacker positions, but mostly 'MIKE' or middle linebacker.
Schools already offering the talented sophomore include Florida State, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Rutgers, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt and North Carolina State with aforementioned Tennessee.
"I'm looking at programs that show they want me there both as a player and a student," said Levenberry. "I don't want any special treatment. I'm there to go to class like everybody else. I like to compete. I don't need anybody to promise me stuff like early playing time. I want to go in and compete with the other players and have them say ‘this dude is playing because he outworked everybody out there'.
"The second thing is I want to go to a school to compete for a National Championship or go to a big-time bowl game. It's something I can tell my kids I played in."
E.J.'s father, Eric Levenberry, an excellent football player in his own right at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, is moving the family to Woodbridge, Va. in June where E.J. will attend C.D. Hylton Senior High School.
"I'm excited," Levenberry said of the new school. "They have a bunch of athletes I've already started to mesh with. We're going to be ready to roll. I want to win a state championship with these guys. I try to stay humble and feel blessed with all the accolades I receive, but I'd really like to make All-D.C. Metro next season."
Levenberry plans to visit the University of Tennessee in July. His father, also a linebacker, was recruited by UT out of Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Md. They also are considering summer trips to Southern Cal and Florida State.
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