LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — For Anthony Chickillo, he’s just happy to be back in football pads.
Now that his career at Tampa Alonso is over, the four-star defensive end is showcasing his skills one last time this week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in preparation for Wednesday’s Under Armour All-America Game.
At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Chickillo was one of the more dominant defensive linemen during Sunday’s practice. He consistently ran through and around opposing tackles with relative ease.
While he’s making his competition look silly, Chickillo is having a little fun too.
“It’s been a great time out here going against these great guys,” Chickillo said. “Everybody’s good. There is nobody bad. You wouldn’t be here if you were bad.”
Though Chickillo, whom Rivals.com ranks as the No. 6 defensive end in the country, is working this week to bring home a win for Click-Clack (Red), he’s also dealing with a little recruiting.
Though he’s committed to Miami, Chickillo said he’ll take official visits before he makes his final decision on National Signing Day (Feb. 2). He’s already visited North Carolina and said he’ll visit Florida next week, followed by Miami and South Florida. Four schools — Tennessee, USC, Florida State and Alabama — are battling for his final visit.
Chickillo opened up his recruitment after Randy Shannon was fired at Miami. The two developed a very strong relationship, something he hopes to develop with new coach Al Golden. Chickillo admitted he didn’t know much about Golden when he was hired, but has been studying up on him ever since and says he’s impressed with him so far.
“He’s had success everywhere he’s been,” Chickillo said. “He’s going to do great things at Miami.”
Being on the Red team, Chickillo is teammates with three Florida commitments. All three have had fun so far, and those commits have been slowly trying to lure him to their side with whispers in his ear and Gator chomps in his face, especially Oviedo Hagerty quarterback Jeff Driskel.
“He’s a great guy,” Chickillo said of Driskel. “Me and him are good friends. We always talk and text. He always tells me to come to Florida with him.”
Florida’s chances seemed much greater when Shannon was first fired, but losing defensive line coach Dan McCarney, who was in charge of Chickillo’s recruitment, and the resignation of Urban Meyer hurt Florida.
That’s why new Florida coach Will Muschamp made an effort to immediately get in front of Chickillo by visiting him the day after he was hired and told Chickillo he was “the No. 1 guy he wants.”
What will also help Florida’s chances is the addition of former Miami receivers coach Aubrey Hill. Chickillo said he and Hill had a strong relationship when he was on the Hurricanes’ staff.
Chickillo was impressed, but he’s always been impressed with Muschamp.
“He’s had great success at Texas,” he said. “You know if you’re the defensive coordinator at Texas you know your stuff.”