DeBerry: 'I loved every second of it'

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To get the program back where it once was, Tennessee must dig in and recruit some of the finest football players in the country.

Glancing at the 2015 signing class, it doesn't take long to see the name Ricky DeBerry emerge. His offer list is plentiful as few BCS programs anywhere in the country would turn down a verbal commitment from the Virginia native.

The Volunteers appear to be right in the thick of the hunt for DeBerry's signature and they took a step forward by hosting him this weekend.

"Yeah, it definitely improved Tennessee's chances," the FOX Sports and Scout five-star prospect told InsideTennessee. "I like Tennessee a lot. My dad is a big Tennessee fan. Tennessee has one of the degrees that I like.

"It was great. I loved it. I loved every second of it. You don't get to see that many atmospheres at every college. Coming in here and seeing that type of atmosphere, it was just a great feeling."

DeBerry Sr. enjoyed himself.

"He loved it," DeBerry Jr. said. "He was taking pictures, taking videos. He loved it. He absolutely loved it. I loved it too and definitely my mom loves it as well."

The Big Orange narrowly missed getting coach Butch Jones a signature win his first year on campus as a seven-point lead slipped away at the end of regulation and Tennessee fell to No. 6 Georgia, 34-31.

"They're definitely turning things around," said DeBerry, rated the No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2015 class. "Me and my parents, we definitely like the coaching staff and we definitely like coach Jones and we can see the big turnaround that he's making from what they've been in the past years. So, they're definitely bringing the old Tennessee back."

This wasn't DeBerry's first trip to Rocky Top as he saw the Volunteers take on Florida in September 2012.

"It was good that day too, but I think this one tops that one for sure," the St. Christopher's School star said. "Today was very unexpected, and I enjoyed every second of it."

Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek and linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen stay in contact with DeBerry. Before heading north for home from Rocky Top, the five-star spoke briefly with Jones.

"He just wanted me to keep contact with him and keep building a great relationship with him," said DeBerry, who is a linebacker that could help the Big Orange pass rush on certain downs.

While no list of top schools exists, DeBerry thinks highly of the Orange & White. He came to Knoxville this summer to meet the new coaching staff.

"I don't really have a top right now, everybody is still equal, but I definitely know I like Tennessee," he said.

"I like the tradition, the coaching staff and just the people here. The people here are wonderful and great. It's just a place that I like to come to."

DeBerry plans to visit Penn State to see the Nittany Lions host Nebraska on Nov. 23. The following week he will be in Columbia, S.C., to see South Carolina host rival Clemson.

Another Tennessee trip isn't scheduled but still desired.

"I hope so," he said. "I haven't decided yet, but I definitely want to."

DeBerry isn't seeing a tremendous amount of action for the St. Christopher's defense, but the five-star says his team is still having success.

"It's going really well. Right now I'm fighting a shoulder injury but the teams, they don't run to my side and as far as pass rush, they send 2-3 people to block me. I'm taking one side of the field away but my teammates are making plays as well."

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