After visiting Tennessee three times, including one official visit earlier this season for the Georgia game, O'Fallon High all-state defensive end Dewayne Hendrix was sold on the Volunteers.
He made a verbal commitment to Tennessee on Sunday through his Twitter account, saying "I'm OFFICIALLY committed to the University of TENNESSEE !!!! Brick by brick !!!"
While he admitted the facilities, the program and having a chance to play in the Southeastern Conference all weighed heavily into his decision, Hendrix said there was one more overriding factor.
"From the moment that I walked in there I knew that I was going to be a Vol," said Hendrix, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound senior with 53 tackles and six sacks for the playoff-bound Panthers (5-4). "I had this feeling when I walked in there. I tried to take my mom the second time and she had the same feeling.
"Me and my mom had a long talk about it last night and we both decided it was time."
Considered a four-star recruit by Rivals and one of the top five recruits in Illinois, Hendrix had offers from numerous SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 programs, including Ohio State and Nebraska.
In the end, Hendrix chose Tennessee over Missouri and Florida.
He also was chosen to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl Jan. 4 in San Antonio, Texas.
"I know he definitely always had them at the top of his list.," O'Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst said of Hendrix's choice of Tennessee. "He really felt comfortable with the coaching staff and had some family members that had gone there before. They've got a new coach and he likes the direction the program's headed.
"I'm sure it's a little bit of a relief to end the process because it can become a little cumbersome and time-consuming."
Hendrix admitted that being at Tennessee and seeing that sea of orange-clad fans was special.
"All that was great, too, but I really could see myself being there for the next four years," Hendrix said. "There's nothing that I could find that I didn't like about Tennessee."
Joggerst said Hendrix has had a solid senior season.
"Stats can be a little bit deceiving," Joggerst said. "There are people that turn the protection his way and double-team him or try to run away from him."
Joggerst said the major recruiting interest in Hendrix was the most of any player he has coached at O'Fallon.
"As far as coast to coast, Dewayne is one of the biggest we've had," Joggerst said. "If you start talking USC and Florida, you're getting it from every angle."