November 14, 2013

Amadi talks Vols' visit, looming playoff battle

The first step in Ugo Amadi's weekend last week was an opening-round playoff victory. Step two was taking in Tennessee's home clash with top-10 Auburn.

And after a playoff win and another good experience on Rocky Top, Amadi --- the 2015 defensive back who's stormed onto the radar screens of colleges everywhere this season --- said it was a good weekend.

"I thought the atmosphere was nice. Their fans come out and there are some diehard fans who really love Tennessee football," said the 5-foot-10, 179-pound Amadi. "I love the atmosphere up there. I'm pretty sure I'm going back sometime soon."

Amadi also did some visiting while in Knoxville, both with current members of the Vols' coaching staff and with some of his peers from the Nashville-based Playmakers Academy/In Full Motion program.

"I got to talk to Coach Thig (Tommy Thigpen) and Coach (Willie) Martinez before the game," Amadi said. "I talked to Josh Malone and Jack Jones and all those guys.

"Coach Martinez was just like, 'You should come back more. We love you and you should just make yourself at home. We'd love to have your talent on our team.' Coach Thig was saying same thing, doing well in my season and hopefully we can get you here where you can be a big contributor to the team."

Amadi was perhaps most pleased to see so many of his peers with whom he has trained, noting those environments like last Saturday in Neyland Stadium were forms of constant motivation for the players.

"It's real good, we're all working hard and pushing each other to be great players," said Amadi, who owns a handful of offers and hears consistently from Tennessee, Indiana and Mississippi State. "No one is getting left out of these experiences."

While tallying four picks, three PBUs, more than 600 rushing yards and five touchdowns during the regular season, Amadi also saw opposing offenses tend to work the opposite side of the field. But he expects a major challenge this week when he faces more Nashville-area Tennessee commitments in Vic Wharton and Rashaan Gaulden of Independence in a Class 6A second-round matchup.

"We had a 30-0 win in the first round, and now we're going against Independence. I know Rashaan Gaulden and Vic Wharton; I used to play football and run track with them. I know what kind of athletes they are, and I'm preparing myself for them."

Amadi similarly is preparing himself for his future in college ball. He couldn't help but take notice of all the freshmen on the field for the Vols --- something Amadi finds intriguing.

"Yeah, I take note that they're playing freshmen a lot. Even when they played Georgia they had a freshman starting and he has the same height as me," Amadi said. "My height is not a problem. Just have to adjust to the game. Playing as a freshman would be a blessing. I feel like Tennessee believes in players and even as freshmen you can play if you earn it."

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