KNOXVILLE – Tennessee has been no stranger to recruiting the junior college ranks in recent years and the Vols are continuing that trend in the 2014 class.
Coach Butch Jones has already reeled in JUCO wide receiver Kameel Jackson and he added linebacker Chris Weatherd of Trinity Valley (Tex.) Community College on Friday night.
Weatherd, who also plays defensive end at Trinity Valley, is the 15th commitment in a UT recruiting class that is currently ranked first in the nation on Rivals.com and third on 247Sports.com. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder chose the Vols over offers from Oklahoma, South Florida, Iowa State, Louisiana Tech and others.
Weatherd, a cousin of NFL defensive end Jeremy Beal (Denver Broncos), failed to qualify for a four-year institution out of high school and went the junior college route. He is expect to enroll at UT in January and will have three years to complete his final two years of eligibility
How he fits: Linebacker is a huge area of need for the 2014 class. It’s not too surprising that Jones reached out to the JUCO level for help in this situation.
At this point, Christian Harris, Kenny Bynum, A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt are the only scholarship linebackers scheduled to return in 2014. There’s a strong possibility that Johnson, the SEC’s leading tackler last season, could turn pro early after next year. That’s at least some possibility that Maggitt could leave early as well if he has a great season.
That leaves the possibility of only having two or three scholarship linebackers returning in 2014. That makes it a huge priority in this class. Weatherd will walk into a great situation where he could win a starting role early or, at the very least, be a contributor on special teams.
ESPN.com: NR yet
Rivals.com: NR yet
Scout.com: NR yet
247Sports.com: NR yet
247Sports.com Composite: NR yet
Tennessee’s 2014 commitments (247Sports Composite ranking)
(JUCO) LB Chris Weatherd (NR)
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga