Amir Riep heard plenty about Tennessee. He wanted to see if it lived up to the hype. He wasn’t disappointed.
“I liked everything,” the four-star cornerback from Colerain High School (Cincinnati, Ohio) told SEC Country shortly after his junior day visit on Saturday. “I liked the facilities. It reached my expectations that everyone was telling me about. I liked it a lot.”
Tennessee’s coaches aren’t the only ones that have been lauding what the Vols have to offer. Riep’s former high school teammate, offensive tackle Nathan Niehaus, signed with the Vols in February. Riep said Niehaus’ presence at Tennessee will be a factor in his decision.
“We’re close,” Riep said. “That’s my brother but I’m not going to base my decision on that…He told me I was going to love it.”
Riep said he has taken recent visits to Ohio State, Kentucky and Indiana and he’s unsure if he’ll take anymore soon. This was his first time visiting Knoxville, Tenn.
“The coaches showed interest in me and they offered so I just wanted to show interest and develop (relationships) so I could see if I could see myself here,” the 6-foot, 180-pound prospect said.
The key for the Vols may be getting Riep on campus for a game. He said gameday atmosphere will be a strong factor in his decision and he walked away impressed with Tennessee locker room and Neyland Stadium.
“That’s going to play a role because I want to be on a big stage with great atmosphere,” said Riep, who is the No. 18 cornerback in the nation and the No. 6 overall prospect in Ohio. “I heard it’s wild. I heard everyone is going crazy.”
Riep said he’ll “definitely” make a return trip to Tennessee, especially after how the coaches and players impressed him this weekend.
“Just how the energy level is with everyone here,” Riep said. “The coaches, how they’re family based. They call their teammates sons.”
Even raised in Big Ten country, Riep said he has great respect for the SEC.
“I think it’s a great conference,” he said. “There’s competition in every game. There’s great competition in front of a big crowd. I think highly of the SEC.”
Riep said he mostly speaks to Tennessee defensive backs coach Willie Martinez, who has told Riep he plans to play him at cornerback. However, nickelback is also a possibility.
Riep said he’d like to make an announcement concerning his college decision before his senior season.
“I’m looking for a school that’s a home away from home where I can bond with the coaches and is a family atmosphere,” Riep said, “and without the sport of football I can still enjoy myself.”