Battle of Wills

Battle of Wills

One player who was on Derek Dooley's most-wanted list at Louisiana Tech still appears to be a priority now that Dooley is head coach at Tennessee.

That would be hard-hitting linebacker Desmond Wills of Lincoln (Ala.) High School. Equipped with a 6-1, 220-pound frame, a reported 4.57 clocking in the 40 and a 340-pound bench press, this three-year starter already topped his team's tackle chart in 2007, 2008 and 2009. He says he had 82 solos, 123 total stops, 7 fumble-forcing hits and 3 sacks last fall.

Whatever he saw in Wills when Dooley was in Ruston, the coach apparently still sees it now that he's in Knoxville.

"I really didn't speak with Coach Dooley when he was at Louisiana Tech," Wills told InsideTennessee.com, "but I think Coach Spangler (Tech defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler) talked to Coach Dooley about me."

Oddly enough, Dooley's former school and his current school are among Wills' preferred options at present.

"Right now my favorites are Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, Kentucky and La Tech," he said. "Tennessee is right there at the top now, right there in my top two or three."

That's partly because of Vol linebackers coach Lance Thompson, who is recruiting Wills for the Big Orange.

"I think Coach Thompson is a really nice dude. He's real cool," Wills said. "I talked to him last year when Lane Kiffin was there. Coach Thompson is one of the top recruiters in the country, and he seems to be real interested in me."

The interest appears to be mutual. Wills visited UT's campus last year and plans to make a return visit in a few weeks.

"I'm coming to the camp this summer," Wills said. "Coach Thompson told me he's got to get me up there this summer, so I can talk to Coach Dooley. I could call Coach Dooley right now, of course, but I'd rather talk with him face to face."

Although Wills has been utilized some as a running back, he says he strongly prefers playing defense.

"My favorite position is linebacker," he said. "I love to hit people. That's about it right there."

Although he has started at strongside linebacker throughout his high school career, Wills isn't limited to one position.

"I play strongside but I can play any one of the spots," he said. "I might move to middle linebacker at the college level."

Wills says he already has firm scholarship offers from Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech and Clemson, adding: "I've got other schools that are in the process but haven't offered yet."

More schools are likely to be offering once they see Wills' full-throttle style on tape.

"I'm the type of player who is going to try my best to make every tackle," he said. "Every tackle on the field, I want to make it. I try not to let anything separate me from getting to the football. I like beating up on running backs."

Wills won't prolong the suspense once he makes a decision on where to attend college.

"If I can get the schools I want to offer me, I might commit early," he said, "so I don't have to go through all of that signing-day stuff."

If he does commit early, Tennessee's campus just might be his college home.

"I came to Junior Day, and it's nice," he said. "You can't beat the Rocky Top."

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