Cheyenne Labruzza wowed by Vols 'family atmosphere'

Tennessee made a lasting impression on one of Louisiana's best cornerbacks.

Cheyenne Labruza knew what to expect when he took his first visit to Tennessee on Saturday. 

Or so he thought. 

The Scout three-star cornerback heard all about Tennessee's lavish recruiting weekends made famous by Butch Jones and his staff, but even prior stories paled in comparison to what Labruzza experienced when he finally made the trek from Louisiana. 

"My trainer and mentor told me it would be a fun experience," Labruzza said. "The experience I actually had was way better than what he said. I went to a baseball game, and just seeing (cornerback) Cam Sutton and how he was treated by fans at the game and they way he responded, it was way more than I expected and a great time." 

The Albany High School star was able to catch the Vols play Kentucky on the diamond and relished the opportunity to see Sutton work both the crowd and opposing receivers at a Saturday practice. The 5-foot-11, 183-pound rising senior watched the Vols defensive backs inside Neyland Stadium during situational scrimmaging as he observed his potential position coach, Willie Martinez, in his element.

"Cam Sutton, he's one of my favorite cornerbacks, so it was good seeing him in live action," Labruzza said. "It was good seeing how coach Martinez handled him and how coach Martinez handled (Todd Kelly Jr.). He was calling assignments and helping his DBs adjust on the fly, so that was great seeing the intensity and how coach Martinez coached you hard when you messed up." 

Labruzza, who was coming off a visit to Alabama on Friday, wanted to see the coaching staff working to gauge their style and how they teach their players in practice situations.

"It was fun seeing the coaches coach," Labruzza said. "It's all good seeing the glamour on Twitter and the coaches giving you the good things and the pros, but it's good seeing them coach, seeing how their players respond, seeing how their players respect them, what energy their players have and how they treat their players. It's great seeing a coach coach, because I'll be coached by them one day." 

The No. 3-ranked corner in Louisiana has already visited Alabama, Baylor, LSU and Oklahoma State, and wanted to come to Tennessee for a first-hand look at the program that offered him in December. After seeing the environment, Labruzza is glad he did.

"The best thing is the family atmosphere," he told InsideTennessee. "The minute my family got out of the car and came through the double doors, the whole coaching staff — including coach (Butch) Jones — greeted us. At other schools, the DB coach greeted me, or the recruiting coordinator, but here it was the whole staff. Immediately I felt at home. I felt like the coaches genuinely and truly wanted me here, my family also, and coach Jones and my brother were having a great time. That right there is awesome." 

A combination of intrigue and feeling of duty called Labruzza to visit Tennessee, a trip that is key for the Vols in courting the rising corner deep in the heart of SEC country.

"I had to come see what it was like," Labruzza said. "I had an offer from the Tennessee Volunteers. That's major. That's a blessing and a great accomplishment, so I wanted to come check it out, see what the whole town was, the university, what they had to offer, the coaches. When you have an offer from the Tennessee Volunteers, you have to take the tour. You can't just put it under the rug and go about your business."

InsideTennessee managing editor Danny Parker contributed to this report.

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