Cheyenne Labruzza idolizes former LSU All-American cornerback Patrick Peterson. Current Tigers defensive back Tre’Davious White is among his favorite players, too.
But the Albany (La.) High School cornerback in the Class of 2017 isn’t in line to join the long legacy of ‘DBU’ alums next fall.
Instead, Labruzza, a 6-foot, 185-pound 3-star prospect, is seeking his own accreditations at Tennessee.
“The Volunteers recruited me more and harder than any other school,” said Labruzza, who verbally committed to Tennessee in April after a lengthy courtship with the home-state Tigers.
“They showed me why they wanted me. How they could use me. Plans for me. They showed me that family atmosphere. They welcomed me in. They welcomed my family in. The first time I stepped on campus I felt like I was already apart of the team.”
Labruzza ultimately opted for Rocky Top because of the “fit.” He spoke glowingly about his relationships with coach Butch Jones and defensive backs assistant Willie Martinez.
He’s excited to play in new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s aggressive scheme, too.
Although spurning his childhood team wasn’t ideal, “young man Cheyenne” had little trouble coming to an important decision this summer.
“Speaking from a fan perspective, from child Cheyenne, it was hard because a lot of my favorite players played at LSU, so of course you want to go and follow their footsteps and be like them. Heck be even better than them. Those were goals,” he explained.
“But speaking from a young man’s perspective and guy who is going to play college football, I would say it was pretty easy. At the end of the day, I have to choose what’s best for me now. The best fit for me is Tennessee. It wasn’t a hard task at all considering I feel like Tennessee is a better fit for me.”
Still, the pull to LSU is natural and won’t stop. Labruzza, who will play in a 7-on-7 tournament with the Louisiana Bootleggers this weekend at LSU, still hears regularly from Tigers defensive line coach Ed Oregeron, speaking with the renowned recruiter just last week. Locals still believe Labruzza is “an LSU-lock,” too.
“That’s just some people making assumptions from where I’m from,” he said.
“I’m very solid to Tennessee.”
With school starting August 4, Labruzza will camp with the Vols on July 21, wrapping up a wild couple months for Louisiana’s 20th-ranked prospect.
After playing two seasons with a torn meniscus, Labruzza finally got surgery at the behest of several mentors, including former Tennessee star defensive back J.J. McCleskey.
Labruzza rehabbed with McCleskey and is back to nearly 100 percent. He debuted his repaired knee at the Pylon 7-on-7 National Championships in Dallas earlier this month.
“The recovery is going good,” Labruzza said.
“I’m working hard, bring to get back to my full potential everyday. I’m just trying to work everything back into motion.”
Labruzza hasn’t mapped out his official visit list for the fall quite yet, saying he’s going to discuss potential trips with Tennessee coaches first. In the meantime, he’s started forming relationships with fellow Vols commits, connecting with 4-star safety Maliek Gray and 3-star safety Theo Jackson at “Orange Carpet Weekend” in June.
Labruzza has also set his sights on getting some talent to join Tennessee’s class, targeting two 5-star studs.
“I’m trying to recruit (running back) Cam Akers and (athlete) Deangelo Gibbs.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com