Corey Miller and Brandon Willis had all but given up playing college football together. The two highly touted defensive ends from Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C., would surely continue their football careers at different locales.
Then, they both committed to Tennessee on Sunday.
“It just kind of worked out that way,” said Willis, a 6-foot-4, 250-pounder who is ranked as the No. 2 defensive end in the state of South Carolina by Rivals.com. “I guess it was just meant to be.”
It didn’t always seem that way. While Willis mulled over his many college choices, Miller committed to Florida State in July.
A trip to Knoxville last weekend changed his tune.
“It feels good,” Miller, a 6-4, 230-pounder who is ranked as the No. 2 end in the state, said of his commitment.
Miller said UT proved to be a better fit than Florida State while he extolled the virtues of UT’s coaching staff.
“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Miller said of the opportunity to play for UT defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Willis said he’s just happy to have the decision behind him. Willis and Miller both were considered among the top 100 prospects in the nation and, subsequently, dealt with plenty of media coverage.
“It’s good,” Willis said of his commitment. “It takes a load off.”
Willis said he was impressed with Orgeron, Kiffin and the connection among UT’s coaches.
“It just felt like home,” Willis said of UT.
Miller can’t help but imagine starting alongside his defensive end mate throughout college.
“That would be pretty cool,” Miller said, “just like high school.”