The Boilermakers, whose campus is within two hours, could be tough to beat for a number of reasons.
''My parents like Purdue,'' Paxson told Allen Wallace of TheInsiders.com. ''My mom graduated from there and about 70 percent of my family went there. My sister, Jill, played softball there. They like Coach Tiller a lot and they seem to be recruiting me the hardest. They are sending the most handwritten letters.''
Paxson already has attended camps sponsored by Purdue and Michigan. He is impressed with the Wolverines.
''They go to the Rose Bowl and I'd be a contender to go to a big bowl game the whole four years there,'' Paxson said. ''
Paxson grew up following the Big Ten but he isn't ruling out schools from outside the Midwest.
''I want to play for an aggressive coach and for a team that is serious about winning championships and where I'll be able to get ready for the next level,'' he said. ''Purdue is only two hours away, but I think I could be successful anywhere and staying close isn't a preference of mine.''
Still, the Boilermakers are in the driver's seat.
"If Signing Day were tomorrow I'd sign with Purdue,'' he said. ''Although I'm still really open."
Paxson, who covers 40 yards in 4.85 seconds, will be a four-year starter at his school. He recorded 21 sacks as a sophomore and 23 more as a junior last fall. All told, he registered 61 solos and 115 total tackles last season. He intercepted three passes and returned two for touchdowns.
''I get to the ball and I'm great at pass rushing,'' he said. ''I'm very athletic for my size too. I'm quicker than most offensive linemen and I have quick hands. I have a knack for the ball.''
In addition to Big Ten schools, Tennessee is battling Major League Baseball for Paxson's services. Considered a big-time catching prospect, he was hitting .759 with two home runs through his team's first six games of this spring.
He says he plans to play both football and baseball in college.