- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, OHIO (AP) - Trey DePriest likes to do the unexpected.

Despite being a Michigan Wolverines fan as a boy in Springfield, the versatile player did not have the school among his finalists as the recruiting process wound down.

The senior linebacker at Springfield High School is fishing buddies with top quarterback prospect Braxton Miller and attended the press conference when Miller, now at Wayne Huber Heights (Ohio), announced he would attend Ohio State next year.

It was assumed by many that DePriest _ on The Associated Press East Region 25 list of top recruits _ would follow. However, on July 30 he announced he chose Alabama over the Buckeyes after also passing on offers from such schools as Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech.

“It just felt comfortable there,” he said of his visit to Tuscaloosa prior to making a decision. The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the Top 25 preseason poll.

And, yes, Miller _ who grew up in Springfield and played junior-high football with DePriest _ was there to lend his support even though they are going separate ways. Springfield athletic director Greg Newland said with the pressures of recruiting gone, DePriest should be able to get greater enjoyment from his final season with the Wildcats.

“He’s going to play with as much, if not more, enthusiasm than he had before,” Newland said.

That could be bad news for opponents.

DePriest (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) put up big numbers last year: He had 101 tackles, seven sacks and had three fumble recoveries.

He also rushed for 812 yards; had 13 receptions for 202 yards, scored 13 touchdowns and had a 37.7 punting average. DePriest probably would have driven the team bus as well but he turned 16 just weeks before the season opener.

As a sophomore outside linebacker he had 31 tackles (five for losses) and four sacks.

“He’s a good student, and he’s football smart,” Springfield head coach Rick Robertson told the Springfield News-Sun.

DePriest runs a 4.79 40-yard dash and has a vertical leap of 32 inches, numbers that will improve as he matures.

“I’m still growing and I know I will have to get stronger to play at Alabama,” he said.