May 19, 2009

A royal offer for rising N.C. standout

The offers have come to Prince Shembo with enough regularity that it takes a little something unique to get him excited.

Tennessee fit the bill nicely on Tuesday when it extended the surging Charlotte, N.C., prospect his first Southeastern Conference offer -- and capped a double-offer day that included North Carolina's extension of a scholarship.

"It was a great reaction, a very big one too," said the articulate Shembo, a gazelle-like 6-foot-2-inch, 225-pound defensive end. "It was a big reaction with Lane and Monte Kiffin. I was very happy about that one, and it's my first SEC offer as well, which is a big deal."

Now with 11 offers, Shembo has seen a steady uptick in attention from college coaches and recruiters since a standout performance earlier this month at a Nike combine in Charlottesville, Va. It was there the Ardrey Kell High School product wowed onlookers with his physicality -- his max bench press currently is 335; he squats 545 -- and his adaptive ability to stand up and run sideline-to-sideline.

"I went to the Nike camp, and most people wanted to see if I can play up and down. I performed well," said Shembo, who boasts a 3.7 GPA and lists academics among his top priorities. "That gave me lot of recognition; I made the 'Hot 11' team.

"People knew I had great pass-rushing ability, but they wanted to see if I could stand up and run around. I had no doubt. I just had to prove to them I could move around while standing up. People that see me all the time know I can do that. I jammed a lot of people to the ground, and I was able to keep up with some guys running around."

And, well, there's Shembo's undeniable strength that's merely enhanced by a 4.59 40-yard dash. He tallied 90 tackles, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries a year ago. When he recorded a new personal best on the bench press recently with University of Tennessee quarterbacks coach David Reaves in attendance videotaping the workout, Shembo had a pretty good idea a Tennessee offer was forthcoming.

"I was confident from the start," Shembo said of beating his previous bench mark by 10 pounds. "I was just like, 'Get 335!' (Reaves) had a camera in front of himself videotaping me. I wanted to show what I could do. I got the weight, and I was pretty confident."

Shembo, who says he definitely wants to make a trip to UT's Knoxville campus, already believes he possesses a good feel for the Tennessee program.

"I know quite a lot about the Vols. They're a very powerful school in football," he said. "I know they've sent a lot of people to the pros and stuff like that. I know quite a bit about them."

Does Shembo know enough to declare any leaders from his 11 offers?

"I don't have a top five, but Tennessee is definitely a school I want to keep in mind. Getting that offer was great," he said.

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