"I like the atmosphere and it's not too far home," said the Parkland High star.
Wardlow's relationship with UT assistant coach Dan Brooks was also a strong draw.
"I like him lot," Wardlow said. "He's down to earth. He's a cool guy."
Parkland head coach Dee Bell said Wardlow has played wide receiver, defensive back, kick returner, and quarterback.
"He's probably the most versatile athlete in North Carolina," Bell said. "I think defensive back is his calling. He likes to hit you.
"He made the choice on his own. I told him to go where he thought he would be happy for four years. He decided it would be Tennessee."
The two close friends said Tennessee leads for their services after visiting Knoxville this weekend. Williams, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound linebacker from Boyd Anderson High School in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., said the two will inform Florida they are no longer committed to the Gators because of Florida's unsettled coaching situation.
"Tennessee is number one right now," Williams said. "We've de-committed to Florida. The (UT) trip went really well. We liked it a lot. We were real close (to committing)."
Williams and Richard said they will wait to announce their decision until Signing Day in February. Williams said both have made their decision but want to take one or two more visits to be certain.
"I want to be respectful to my commitment," said Richard, a 6-4, 255-pound defensive lineman from Piper High School in Sunrise, Fla. "We're going to take all our visits. From there, we'll make the best decision."
Tennessee deployed south Florida native Brent Schaeffer to woo Williams and Richard while they were in Knoxville. Evidently, it worked.
"Brent helped out a lot," Williams said. "He (Brent) said, 'It's a great town, the academic program is great, and it's a great place to go to college.
"Knoxville was a whole lot bigger than I thought it would be."
Said Richard: "We were walking through the Vol Walk and people were yelling, 'We need you here.' We signed two dozen autographs. The fans were great. They were screaming our names and cheering for us."
If Williams and Richard commit to Tennessee as expected, they won't be the first Florida commitment to shun the Gators for the Vols. Demetrice Morley started the trend when he committed to Tennessee last month after originally vowing to be a Gator in July.
Tennessee Leads: Tennessee made an impression on Michael Oher. Oher, from Briarcrest Christian High School in Memphis, said UT has the lead for his services after visiting Knoxville this past weekend.
"I can't be wrong if I come," said the 6-foot-5, 330-pound offensive lineman. "If you pick Tennessee, it's a right decision. They are somewhat at the top."
Oher said he will visit LSU before finalizing his decision. He also is considering Ole Miss.
"I enjoyed it," Oher said of his visit to Knoxville. "With 108,000 (fans for the UT-Notre Dame game), it's amazing. I loved it. They have great fans. The coaches are great and I enjoyed talking with the players. I loved everything about it."
Oher said there is some pressure to sign with Tennessee. That's expected living in the Volunteer State.
"Every Tennessean loves the Vols," Oher said.
Oher is widely thought of as one of the top two players in Tennessee, along with Goodpasture wide receiver Patrick Turner.
Wide Open: Offensive lineman Chris Scott of Jonesboro, Ga., was thought to be deciding between Tennessee and Georgia. Not so fast.
Scott said he is still considering Florida, LSU, and Nebraska along with the Vols and Dawgs. Tennessee has the latest word after Scott took his official visit to Knoxville this past weekend.
"All the players are a big family," said the 6-foot-5, 300 pounder. "It's like a big family of close brothers."
Scott's host for his visit was former high school teammate Anthony Parker, a Vol freshman offensive lineman. Scott and Parker were known as the "Dynamic Duo" while playing at Lovejoy High.
"I always think about it," Scott said of reuniting with Parker. "If we were playing football together, it would be an awesome tandem."
Scott said he will wait to make his decision until late January. Scott, unlike many prospects, said the Gators uncertain coaching situation isn't a concern.
"The situation going down at Florida is not going to effect my decision," Scott said. "I don't feel that I need to make my decision on who the coaching staff is or what's going on with the coaching staff. It will come down more to where I feel comfortable."