June 23, 2009

Shembo likes Kiffin's message

When Prince Shembo earned an offer last month for a football scholarship from the University of Tennessee, it was because the Vols' coaches liked the potential they saw in the Charlotte, N.C., defensive prospect.

Last week it was Shembo's turn to be impressed as he made his first-ever visit to Tennessee's Knoxville campus.

"It was a great trip. I actually really liked it," said the 6-foot-2-inch, 232-pounder. "I met with the linebackers coach (Lance Thompson), coach (David) Reaves (Shembo's recruiter), then they hooked me up with one of these hosts and we had an academic trip and toured the academic center. Afterwards went to see the dorms, they asked us if we had any questions, we looked around the campus, and we were just talking to different people about Tennessee.

"Then we drove down to the stadium, and I was able to see the stadium, locker room, everything," said the relentless Shembo, who has impressed college coaches with both his speed and sideline-to-sideline pursuit. "The stadium was huge. They've got great facilities. Then I came back to camp, and I talked to Lane Kiffin and Monte Kiffin. And Monte was talking to me about how he liked my film. We watched film on Derrick Brooks (a 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker for Monte Kiffin's Tampa Bay defense) and he told me he would use me like he used Derrick Brooks."

It was that last portion of the visit with the famed defensive guru that left a striking impression on Shembo, something of an unknown quantity until dominating in early-May at a Nike combine in Charlottesville, Va., that left scouts gushing about his abilities.

"For him (Monte Kiffin) to say that about using me like Derrick Brooks, it felt like I had accomplished something really big," he said. "It made me feel really special because hearing it from Monte Kiffin, I like the way he talked to me about how he would utilize me. That's a big compliment."

Shembo also stays in regular contact with Reaves, the Vols' quarterbacks coach who recruits both North Carolina and South Carolina.

"I talk to him a lot. I think he likes me because he saw the way I work. I was looking at their roster and they don't really have any big linebackers," said Shembo, who possesses the speed and agility to play upright in college. "I think he wants another big linebacker in his lineup. I weigh 232 with still another year left. So that's pretty good."

Though Shembo won't participate in any more camps this summer, he still is taking some unofficial visits. This weekend he'll head to South Bend, Ind., to visit Notre Dame.

"I want to talk to coaches and look around at facilities; I'm going to Notre Dame this week. They have a very strong recruiting class and are recruiting a lot of strong linebackers," he said. Chris Martin (the No. 1 weakside defensive end in 2010) and Manti Te'o. Notre Dame used to have a great, great team and they're trying to rebuild that team again. They've been recruiting a lot of great defensive players and they have a great education as well. I'm going to Virginia Tech. I like Chapel Hill; I've been there a lot. And then I'll probably go to N.C. State and Wake Forest."

With a top four of Tennessee, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, Shembo ultimately expects to make a decision prior to the 2009 football season but doesn't rule anything out.

"I'm pretty sure I'll make it back for an official visit," he said. "My parents and I have talked about deciding before the end of summer and getting it out of the way to focus on my senior year and just in case something happens. But I'm pretty sure I can still take some officials, and you never know what might happen."

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