N.C. Athlete Makes UT a Favorite

Tennessee remains among the top two teams battling for Tar Heel State talent Antonio Wardlow, and the versatile athlete appears to be leaning toward making an early commitment.

The Vols and Virginia Tech have emerged as favorites for the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Wardlow who will be a senior at Parkland High School in Winston-Salem, N.C. He participated in VTU's prospect camp this summer and attended Tennessee's Orange and White Game last spring. He is also looking at in-state schools Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina and N.C. State as well as South Carolina and Clemson. In addition to the camp at he took part in camps at North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest.

"I'm keeping my options wide open," Wardlow told The Insiders Miller Safrit. "I know Virginia Tech and Tennessee will make the cut. Beginning in August I'm going to try to narrow it down to a top five. I plan on verbally committing by mid-August. I'm looking at how I fit in with the team, the academic program, and early playing time. I want to see where I feel comfortable around the coaches and players."

Wardlow, who is fully qualified with a 3.0 GPA and an 880 SAT score, plans to major in computer engineering.

As a junior, Wardlow played primarily at safety on defense, amassing 85 tackles, nine interceptions, and six pass deflections. As a running back, he picked up 458 all-purpose yards. He made all-conference last year as well as his freshman and sophomore seasons.

"I feel that my quickness and ability to make hard hits are my biggest, best skills on the field," Wardlow said. "But if I saw one area that I needed to improve on would be my physical strength."

There's certainly nothing lacking with his speed which has been measured at sub-4.5 on several occasions this summer. If there's any reason Wardlow might be have been somewhat overlooked as a prospect it's that his diversity has kept him from specializing at one position.

"A lot of schools like him at safety," said Parkland head coach D'Angelo Bell. "Other schools like West Virginia like him at wide receiver because of his ability to do that. Virginia Tech offered him as an athlete, so he can really just about do anything."

Tennessee might prefer Wardlow at linebacker where his speed fits John Chavis' attacking scheme. However he also possesses great value for the Vols at strong safety given his size, experience and coverage skills. He could also become a standout on special teams with his speed and physical play.

As Antonio Wardlow gets closer to his decision word is getting out about his range of talents and diversity. He is now hearing from prominent football programs outside the south like Michigan, Syracuse and Illinois, but he's likely to choose between UT and VTU with Wake Forest and North Carolina State remaining legitimate threats.

Will this rapidly rising prospect land in Big Orange Country? Stay tuned.

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