Divining Defensive Stars

Two of the Class of 2005's biggest defensive prizes are in the news today, addressing the topic of where they'll be next fall.

The nation's No. 2 rated linebacker, Eugene Hayes of Madison, Fla., said he will visit Florida State on Jan. 28 and indicates he'll also visit Auburn sometime next month. He'll also visit Tennessee on Jan. 14 and he makes the Vols his leader.

However, the Seminoles have been building steam with Hayes since his teammate, Charlie Graham, committed to FSU earlier this month, and now the two plan to visit Tallahassee together on the last weekend before national signing day. Madison is a mere 57 miles from FSU's campus.

A date hasn't been set for his Auburn visit but Jan. 21 seems the most likely weekend. He was originally slated to be at Ole Miss on that date but has moved the Tigers ahead of the Rebels in recent days.

In the first 12 games of his all-state senior campaign, the 6-foot-1, 218-pound Hayes posted 115 tackles with 12 sacks and four caused fumbles. As a junior, he had 18.5 sacks, the third highest total by a player in the Sunshine State that season.

"I'm going to visit Tennessee on Jan. 14, and my teammate Charlie Graham and I are going to visit Florida State on Jan. 8," Hayes told Dave Peters of Scout.com and TheTerritory.org. "I'm also going to visit Auburn. Tennessee is my leader now because they have the tradition and a great atmosphere."

Oak Creek, Wis., standout defensive end Raymond Henderson is one of the most colorful personalities in the Class of 2005 and one of the best defensive end prospects in the nation (rated No. 6 by Scout.com at his position).

He told Scout.com's Allen Wallace that he has made up his mind but no one, including his mother, knows where he plans to go.

Inside Tennessee made a call to Henderson to inquire further about the hints he offered when he said: "They are playing against a school whose coach is wanted by the NFL." And: "The only hint I'll give is that I like the color black."

A lot could be read into either one of those cryptic clues although it might not wise to read too much into either clue, according to the man who imparted the me.

"I really don't want people guessing where I'm going to go," he told IT. "I want to make the announcement at the Army all-star game. That's just a couple of weeks. Everybody can wait that long."

When informed people are already guessing where he's going to go, Henderson said: "Yeah, I know. But they might be wrong. Look at what Derrick Williams did yesterday. He fooled everybody."

Williams surprised most recruiting experts, who expected him to announce for either Florida or Oklahoma on ESPN Wednesday, by pledging for Penn State.

In recent interviews Henderson has praised the coaches at Nebraska, the weather and stadium at UCLA and the successful comeback season enjoyed by Iowa. The only team he didn't mention was Tennessee.

Does that mean he's really leaning to the Vols? We'll have to wait until Jan. 15.


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