February 7, 2012

Bynum eyes decision; does he see UT fit?

By Thursday, Kenneth Bynum expects to have made his choice of where he'll play linebacker at the collegiate level.

On Tuesday, the Jacksonville, Fla., native left an official visit at the University of Tennessee impressed; almost as much as his parents, who made the trip with him.

"They loved it. I think they liked it a little bit more than I did," Bynum said, chuckling. "I mean, I liked it a lot, but they really loved it because they have so many things for the parents --- like, where the parents sit at during the games, the parents' section, and after the games they can go inside the Lauricella (Center) or something like that. That's kind of cool, so they treat the parents nice."

As for how Vols players are treated, Bynum said he felt he had gotten a glimpse into what life on the Tennessee defense would be like during his high school career. Bynum's coach at Raines High School, Deran Wiley, played for new UT defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri at Louisville and the Vols' expected transition to a 3-4 scheme is something Bynum views as a plus.

"Actually, I wanted to play a 3-4 defense in college, because I like playing at inside," said the 6-foot-1, 213-pounder, who called the SEC offer with the Vols a "big deal" to consider. "I mean, it's not that hard. I'm pretty sure their scheme will be different from my high-school scheme, but a little bit more advanced and challenging. But it's probably not that much of a difference because, actually, Coach Sal coached my high school coach. I'm pretty sure they're alike in teaching styles.

"(Wiley) pretty much said that they were just alike, and I can tell. Both of them are very amped. They have very amped personalities. They know their stuff."

With offers from numerous Division I programs, including schools the ilk of North Carolina and Stanford, Bynum places a heavy emphasis on academics. He was similarly impressed with that aspect of the UT experience.

"One thing I really liked was the Thornton Center. I think that's a real good resource that you can have as a student athlete," Bynum said. "(An emphasis on academics) is really big. They can't take away your education. I might get hurt --- stub a toe or whatever -- but they can't take away your education. That's a priority."

Though a rare midweek official visitor, Bynum said he was hosted by UT linebacker Nigel Mitchell-Thornton and picked up some positive vibes on the Tennessee way, the Vols' almost entirely new defensive coaching staff and the plans for improved facilities.

"The new facilities. They've got everything you really need to be successful, and if you don't, you can have a great coaching staff. Coach Sal seems like he knows about everything there is with defense, and Coach (Derek) Dooley seems very educated," he said. "Resources like the new facilities that they're building right now, that they'll have in September, it doesn't get any better than that."

Bynum, who said he could tell the magnitude of Tennessee football when he gained "100" Twitter followers after news of his impending visit to Rocky Top, also has previously played alongside 2012 QB signee Nathan Peterman. The two played on a 7-on-7 squad together.

Expecting to make a final decision in the next 48 hours, Bynum said he could see himself fitting in well at Tennessee and liked the Vols. He'll pick between Cincinnati and Tennessee where to continue his career.

"Oh, yeah, definitely. I can definitely see myself playing there," Bynum said of Tennessee. "What they were basically saying is their main goal is to put people in the NFL. Basically, they said that they're in need of a linebacker. The linebackers they had committed, decommitted, so they don't really have any inside linebackers any more than they have now. I guess I can fit in there.

"I'm liking Tennessee a lot. I'm going to go home and talk to my parents about it --- you know, really, really talk about it --- because this isn't just a four-year decision. It's a 40-year decision. I'm definitely doing a lot of thinking about it.

"I'd say one thing I've seen about Cincinnati that I didn't see about Tennessee --- and I didn't see it at Tennessee because it's not football season --- but one thing I saw at Cincinnati was everyone was one. There's no one yelling at them because they missed a tackle or whatever. They're saying, 'Come on, get up. Keep going.' I'm pretty sure Tennessee does that, because I was in the weight room and they were pushing each other - I was watching them work out - but I just didn't see it as clear as I did at Cincinnati."

When the picture clears completely for Bynum, he knows exactly what will be the telling factors.

"I'm looking at pretty much everything. What's best for me? Not what's best for that coach or what will make that coach happy or what will make my girlfriend happy," he said. "I'm worried about what's best for me."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!