August 3, 2011

Autry has plenty of options ... and a leader

North Carolina native and East Mississippi Community College defensive end Denico Autry never had the opportunity to sign with a college program coming out of high school. He hadn't met his requirements in the classroom and so off to JUCO he went with a mission on his mind.

Now, things sure have changed.

"I'm enjoying the process," Autry said. "I'm getting closer. It's down to Tennessee, Mississippi State and Alabama. All three have their positives. I want to be in the SEC and that's very big to me. I'm from North Carolina and I'd like to stay in the South."

Autry took his first of five official visits recently to Tennessee and he's willing to call the Vols his frontrunner.

"They lead because they made it feel like home," Autry said. "I've been to most of the big-name schools in the SEC, but I just felt a good vibe there like I needed to be there. I'm going to wait and take my visits before I make my decision."

His visit went extremely well with his roommate and teammate Damien Jacobs committing to Tennessee shortly after they returned home. Autry was also blown away by the entire orange and white experience.

"I like everything," Autry said. "They have everything but a d-line and the coaches tell me they are going to get one and then they will be good to go. The staff is amazing. They are down to earth and when it comes to football, they get serious."

He also plans on taking official visits to Alabama, Texas, Auburn and Mississippi State before graduating in December and enrolling at a school in January. Having Jacobs committed and former teammate Izauea Lanier now on the Tennessee campus is a big plus for Tennessee, Autry explained.

"It helps a lot because it's good to know that I'd know someone else up there," Autry said. "We are roommates and we are pretty close. Izauea Lanier is my homeboy, so it's cool that those guys are at the same school."

Another plus for the Vols is secondary coach Terry Joseph, who is in charge of recruiting Autry. The two have hit it off and have developed a solid relationship.

"I really like coach Joseph," Autry said. "He's down to earth and I feel like I've known him forever, even though I've not known him that long. We just have that connection."

At 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds, Autry has a high ceiling with his athletic ability. He brings a lot to the table.

"I feel like I can rush the passer," Autry said. "I think I play the run well and I can run down the quarterbacks. All I'm missing is my weight, but they can put that on me once I get to college. I'm working to get better every day. I think that you can get better at everything. I'm working on my speed and I'm ready for the first game this fall."

Autry plans on pulling the trigger between the middle of his season and December. He hopes to find the place that fits him best and he knows exactly what he's hoping to find.

"I'm looking for a place that hasn't lost too many weapons," Autry said. "I want to get some playing time and I want a place that I can play early. I want a nice city that I can come back to one day after football is over. I just think all of those things are important."

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