Dominique Easley didn’t expect to receive this much interest from college football programs.
The 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive end from Curtis High School in Staten Island, N.Y., has already received scholarship offers from 15 schools, including Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Penn State, Syracuse, Texas Tech and Oregon.
“It’s kind of surprising,” he said, “because I’ve never heard of a person from Staten Island getting talked to by down-south schools.”
Neither has Easley’s head coach, Peter Gambardella.
“This will be my 13th year at Curtis and we’ve never had anyone come from further south than Maryland (to recruit a Curtis player),” Gambardella said. “These are all national championship contenders and they want Dominique Easley from Staten Island, N.Y.”
There’s a reason. Easley looks like a defensive tackle but moves like a defensive end.
“He’s just so talented and athletic,” Gambardella said. “He does things that you look at him and you’re like, ‘Wow,’ because you don’t expect a big guy to move that well.
“I think he’s got the size to be able to play defensive tackle but he’s got the speed and agility to play defensive end.”
That’s the kind of player UT is trying to find. Easley said he’s spoken to tight ends and tackles coach James Cregg about the Vols’ need on the defensive line.
“He told me about the defense they run and how much they want me,” Easley said. “He said they’re an on-the-go defense. They like to rush and just throw blitzes.
“That’s exactly what my game is. I like to get after it.”
Easley said he hasn’t been very involved with college recruiting. Instead, he’s focusing on his academics and preparing for the SAT college entrance exam.
Easley said he will pay more attention to recruiting this summer. He said he’ll look for a school that offers strong education and a comfortable setting.
“I want to see how the coaching staff is, how the players are and the environment,” he said. “Every school has a chance right now.”
That includes UT.
Easley never thought he would be able to play for an SEC school, but he’s always recognized the league’s level of play.
“I personally think that’s the best conference,” he said. “That would be a great experience.”