UT Lands 4-star CB

In an era in which wide receivers seem to get bigger and stronger every year, Tennessee has just acquired an equalizer by the name of DeAngelo Willingham, a California JUCO corner blessed with the essential ingredients of gridiron greatness, i.e. size, speed, strength, athleticism and instincts.

Willingham, a native of Calhoun, S.C., gets a lot closer to home and his dream of playing SEC football. (He was slated to sign with Georgia out of high school but was rerouted to College of the Desert in Desert Springs, Calif. He is on track to graduate in May, and will have three years to play two seasons.

"Everything about the visit has been great," said Willingham. "The thing that impressed me most was the relationships between the players and coaches,"

Willingham, who also considered Nebraska, Washington, Minnesota, Syracuse and California, was going to wait until Sunday to finalize his decision, but committed to Phillip Fulmer at about 10 p.m. EST.

"I just committed about 30 minutes ago," Willingham said when contacted Saturday evening by IT. "I told Coach Fulmer. I felt good about everything. I got to see the campus and meet Coach Slade. Jonathan Hefney is my host. We played high school ball at the same time in South Carolina.

Willingham gives the Vols that rarest of prospects — a big corner back with exemplary cover skills. At 6-feet, 202 pounds, DeAngelo still routinely records sub 4.4 times in the 40 and is listed at 435. Additionally, he has a 35-inch vertical and a 325-pound bench press.

Willingham intercepted 8 pass over two seasons for the Roadrunners, and was twice named to the Foothills All-Conference team.

Certainly Willingham seems to be tailored for SEC play. Besides his linebacker size and sprinter's speed, he is excellent in transition and breaks on the ball well. He intercepted three passes in his freshman year and added five interceptions as a sophomore. Most significantly, he is a good match for the large wideouts.

"Most corners with his speed are 178 (pounds) and 5-10," said Roadrunners head coach Dean Dowty. "He's 6-foot tall, 200 pounds and runs a 4.3. He's got real long arms. He can be physical in bump and run. He just runs well. Syracuse's linebacker coach was in here the other day and thought he was a linebacker."

Willingham said Tennessee has been recruiting him since September. "Coach Fulmer and Coach Atkins told me I would get a chance," he said. "They said it really didn't matter if I finished at the break or in May. We still are recruiting you to come in and start. He didn't guarantee I'd start but he told me I would have a good opportunity to start."

DeAngelo will also have the opportunity to stop some big, strong receivers.

UPDATE: IT verified through UT's coaching staff that prep school wide receiver prospect Devon Parrish is not among the team's 2007 commitments. Parrish had apparently accepted an offer that was no longer in place.

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