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June 28, 2005

No such place as home?

Offensively there is an old adage about recruiting a quarterback in each and every class. If there is an equivalent need in each and every group of defenders it may be right in the middle of the trenches at defensive tackle. With such being the case it was news to Sooner fans ears when Wendell (N.C.) East Wake star Aleric Mullins made comments about his admiration for Oklahoma.

Of course there could also be an adage that when dealing with 17 year old football player, each day is a new one. Favorites, leaders, and even commitments change by the day in the world of recruiting, but Mullins says don't be surprised if his feelings for Oklahoma don't change any time soon.

"I love Oklahoma's defense, they were the first team I ever saw play," Mullins said. "Ever since I saw them play, I just fell in love with them."

With his constant movement back and forth between North Carolina and his former home in Missouri it's surely been a tough task for coaching staffs across the country to keep up with the 6-foot-3, 285-pound lineman. However, it was upon his arrival back to Wendell that he learned of some good news.

"Coach (Chris) Wilson came to my old school when I was at Missouri, but when I got back here I received my offer from Oklahoma," he said. "I spoke with coach Wilson before May ended and he is a great guy."

For those who don't know Mullins' story he spent his sophomore year as one of Missouri's top young prospects before moving to North Carolina to be one of the state's most talented juniors. Early this spring he made a return to Missouri where many expected him to be one of the state's top two or three seniors, however recent changes have sent him back to North Carolina instead.

Was there any specific reason for moving back to North Carolina yet again?

"The coaching staff here is great we have a real good defensive line coach. I just like the program honestly," he said. "Also, we did well last season and hopefully we will again this year. I just think I'm on a better team here."

Due to some good coaching, there had been some debate about just what position Mullins might readily fit at the college level. Some coaches felt the talent was there to be a powerful, run-stopping defensive end. While others saw him on film and thought of a pass rushing defensive tackle. Slowly but surely a consensus seems to be forming.

"I guess after some of the coaches got to see some film of me they wanted me to play defensive tackle," he said. "At first it was real random, I even had a guy talk about standing me up sometimes. More and more though, it's just defensive tackle."

The coaches making these evaluations may or may not realize just how important of a role they will play in North Carolina's No. 7 player final decision.

"To me the thing that will separate one school from another has got to be the coaching staff. I mean being comfortable with the defensive line coach," he said. "Also I want to be part of something that the guys around me are happy to be a part of, players should enjoy being there.

"Also I'm going to be looking at academics for each school. I was thinking of majoring in education. I'd like to be a coach someday."

Mullins, who says he plans to wait until signing day before making his decision public, admits that college coaches have had their hands full keeping up with him over the last couple of years. However, he plans to take his recruiting to them before too long.

"I hope they can come to see me, but I know that with me moving back and forth it's tough to keep up," he said. "I'm hoping to start taking my official visits during the season and become more familiar with the schools I like.

"Also I want to see how the teams do this year, a lot of them I'll have a chance to see them on television."

For a talented player like Mullins recruiting is always going to there, regardless of what house he calls 'home'. So for the time being Mullins isn't that worried about the future, unless of course you're talking about his senior season.

"Right now I'm just focused on getting in shape, I mean because this year I have an 'X' on my back," he said. "People are going to be coming for me. I went to the camp at North Carolina and everyone was asking to go against me. I liked that respect, but I also know that it means I'll be getting everyone's best shot every week."

Unlike the ever changing recruiting world, the desire to take out the 'king of the mountain' is an endless battle for high school players across the country. Thankfully for Mullins, he's already making preparations to stay on top.


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