Lethal linebacker

A middle linebacker who could be the next Jonathan Vilma appears to be very much interested in the Tennessee Volunteers.

At 6-0 and 220 pounds, Denzel Perryman is built along the same lines as Vilma (6-1, 230). Perryman is attending the same Florida high school (Coral Gables) and is playing for the same coach (Joe Montoya).

"Everybody asks me to compare him to Jonathan Vilma because he played here also," Montoya told InsideTennessee.com. "As a high school senior, Denzel is a lot stronger, he's quicker and he's a better athlete than Jonathan was at that point."

That's high praise since Vilma has gone on to become a star at the University of Miami, the 14th player selected in the 2004 NFL Draft, the Defensive Rookie of the year in '04 and a two-time Pro Bowl pick ('05 and '09).

Like Vilma, Perryman has a rare combination of strength, quickness and instincts that makes him remarkably productive.

"Obviously, the thing everybody sees in him is his speed and recognition," Montoya said. "He can see things that normally take a kid two or three seconds. And, obviously, he has great strength. He's built huge, and coaches like to see what he can do from the snap of the ball. It's like an explosion with him."

Asked to single out the strongest aspect of Perryman's game, the coach replied: "Covering sideline to sideline is what he does best. He's a downhill football player."

Tabbed a 4-star prospect and ranked No. 14 nationally at his position by Scout.com, Perryman is certainly a productive player. He recorded 126 tackles, 8 sacks and 2 interceptions as a junior in 2009, earning second-team all-state recognition in Florida's 6A classification. He registered 105 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 interceptions in 2008 en route to being tabbed a Sophomore All-American by EA Sports.

Although he has offers from Miami, Florida State, Florida and a host of quality programs outside the state, Perryman seems genuinely interested in Tennessee.

"Without a doubt," Montoya said. "I know that's one of the schools he wants to visit."

From all indications, Perryman is a versatile guy who can do everything that is asked of a college linebacker.

As a tackler, Montoya called him "a punishing kid. He's a punisher on the field."

Asked how much blitzing Perryman has done, the coach deadpanned: "Just about every other down."

Perryman even has been used in pass coverage.

"At times," Montoya said. "He's done well. Last year he had two interceptions."

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