April 22, 2010
Ask Leilon Willingham what he likes most about football and his answer is short and sweet.
"I like hitting," he said Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound linebacker from Denver's Mullen High School has earned a solid reputation as a hitman after earning All-Conference honors for the state champion Mustangs last season. This spring Willingham reports scholarship offers from Colorado, Colorado State, Arizona State, Minnesota, Utah and Washington and is also hearing from Kansas State, Northwestern and Southern California.
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. Willingham has already attended a camp at Colorado and will be at Arizona State's Junior Day this weekend.
"I am looking for an environment where I can live for the next four years," Willingham said. "I want to look at the coaches and see how they help you to stay on top of your academics while you are playing sports in college. I am looking for somewhere where I can get along on a personal level with the coach. I want to go somewhere where he can help me develop as a person and a football player."
Willingham said a few coaches are already standing out to him, such as Ricky Rahne of Kansas State as well as the coaching staffs at Arizona State and Colorado.
The future Aeronautical Engineering major said he likes CU and its environment, as well as the proximity to home of Colorado and Colorado State. He said he has not yet talked much to the Rams despite the fact they have offered a scholarship. Willingham said it would be nice to stay close to home for college and added Wyoming to the list of colleges he is talking to.
"CU is a real nice school, it is close to home," Willingham said. "Wyoming is pretty close too. That environment is close to CU, but the town isn't that big. I like Arizona State because it is hot there and I feel I fit well in that defense."
Willingham said he would like to commit early, but isn't sure that is going to happen.
This summer, Willingham will play AAU basketball with the Colorado Hawks. Willingham did not play basketball for Mullen last season.
"I play the 3 and the 4," Willingham said. "I am a high-riser. I pull rebounds, block shots and get steals. I just play hard and I hustle."
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