August 26, 2010

Mullen linebacker adjusting to senior year

With the start of his senior football season just two weeks away, Denver linebacker Leilon Willingham is focused on the task at hand, as well as fulfilling a new role on his team.

"It is really going great right now," the Mullen High School linebacker said of football practice. "Being a senior you have to have that leadership where you can lead your team and everyone looks up to you because you are the oldest guy around. You also get a lot of respect from teachers."

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound linebacker from Denver's Mullen High School earned All-Conference honors for the state champion Mustangs last season and reports scholarship offers from Colorado, Colorado State, Arizona State, Minnesota, Kansas State and Central Florida. He added Utah and Washington are also calling and have given him the impression an offer is on the way sooner rather than later.

Willingham's physical tools include a bench press of 325 pounds and a 4.6 time in the 40-yard dash. In the classroom he holds a 3.0 grade-point average. He said this fall he feels like his strength and speed have improved over a year ago as well as his ability to diagnose a play. While some colleges may want him to diagnose his future plans, Willingham said he is focusing on football, school above recruiting and choosing a college.

"I usually put the recruiting stuff away until after practice, after school and I really don't get caught up in all of it," he said. "I just try to stay focused on school and football right now. Recruiting is always going to be there."

That isn't to say Willingham hasn't made any decisions. He said he will take official visits to Arizona State, Utah and Central Florida and while he isn't looking to get specifically out of Colorado, he did admit getting to the warm weather of Florida or Arizona would be nice.

Fans of Colorado and Colorado State shouldn't get too worried though.

"I am really digging the in-state schools because they are close and I like the programs," Willingham said. "For my families to come see me play or spend time with them like I do now, an in-state school would be a lot easier.

"CU, I think with the new system they could be one of the explosive teams of the Pac 12. I think they are going to do it. CSU, I think I just like their program, their campus and how things are run up there."

Willingham said he also liked Central Florida.


"I like the location first of all," Willingham said about Central Florida. "Second, Coach Kelly seems like a straight-forward person and that is what I am looking for in my coaches."

Willingham is being recruiting by a couple of schools - Colorado and Utah - who are moving to the Pac 12. Willingham said that does make a difference in his mind.

"I thought Utah should have been playing in the Pac 10 a while ago," Willingham said. "They are playing bigger competition and bigger publicity schools now. CU doing it, I think it will be a nice change for them. They aren't just like a Big 12 team anymore."


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