How much has North Atlanta, Ga., junior strongside defensive end Stephen Weatherly improved since he started his first game as a ninth-grader?
"Tons," Weatherly said. "Probably tenfold. My speed has increased, my strength has increased. My awareness. My football IQ has shot through the roof. That's all enabled me to become a very good player."
So good that the 6-foot-5, 200-pounder has offers from Illinois and Vanderbilt, and is hearing a lot from Auburn and Georgia Tech, he said. Vanderbilt was the first to offer, doing so last fall.
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"I've talked to the new staff recently, and they said it's still good," Weatherly said.
According to Weatherly, the Commodores stand out at the moment.
"I would say my leader would be Vanderbilt," Weatherly said. "It's an SEC school; it's in the best conference. It's also a place I can get a really good education, so I can do something if football isn't available for me after graduation. They've got a strong engineering school. It's a good place to be my alma mater."
That said, a decision isn't likely to come anytime soon.
"I'm not close," Weatherly said.
Weatherly recently visited both Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. He praised each trip.
"At Vanderbilt, I met the whole coaching staff," he said. "I really liked it. They're a bunch of great men. They really made me feel at home. I really like the campus. It's a very beautiful place, even though it was winter. I met with [Commodores head coach James Franklin]. We talked about family, school, athletics. I think he's a very nice man. He's very easy to talk to."
Weatherly checked out Georgia Tech last weekend.
"I've been there a lot of times because I grew up in Atlanta," Weatherly said. "For football, I've probably been there six or seven times. That was my first junior day there. I talked to the majority of the coaching staff, from my position coach to my recruiter. And I also talked to [head coach Paul Johnson]. It was a quick conversation, but he said he liked me as a player and they want me to come back and show off more of my skills at a camp."