KNOXVILLE – Tennessee head coach Butch Jones continues to build an impressive first full recruiting class at UT.
A day after picking up a commitment from slot receiver Brandon Powell, the Vols struck again on Monday with the commitment of linebacker Gavin Bryant, ranked by some recruiting services as a four-star prospect.
Bryant, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound prospect from Jackson, Ala., picked the Vols over an impressive offer list that included Alabama, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Miami, Mississippi State and Kentucky, according to Rivals.com.
“Bryant is a dominant run stopper with the size, strength, range and playing speed for the inside linebacker position at the BCS level of play,” ESPN.com wrote in a scouting report. “He will most likely be able to support additional bulk over time.
“A physically strong player who plays big at the point of attack while demonstrating strong tackling skills. Displays excellent range with the ability to change direction, turn and run to the sideline.”
Bryant is UT’s 16th commitment after the news from earlier on Monday that wide receiver Lawrence Lee is no longer committed to the Vols. Bryant is the second linebacker to pledge in this class, joining Chris Weatherd, a junior college prospect.
How he fits: Linebacker is one of the top priorities in the 2014 class and the Vols could take as many as four or five at that spot. That’s because UT can only return a maximum of four scholarship linebackers after 2013 – A.J. Johnson, Curt Maggitt, Christian Harris and Kenny Bynum.
Any attrition, including the possible early entry into the NFL draft by Johnson and/or Maggitt, will leave the position extremely thin. That means any linebackers, especially one with Bryant’s size and skill, taken in the 2014 class will have a chance to immediately be on the depth chart and possibly even compete for a starting role.
With Bryant’s size, he’ll likely play inside linebacker, a spot that could be wide open if Johnson does leave for the NFL a year early. Click HERE for a closer look at UT linebacker recruiting.
ESPN.com: 4-star; 235th best overall player in the nation
Rivals.com: 3-star; 30th best ILB in the nation
247Sports.com: 4-star; 18th best ILB in the nation
247Sports.com Composite: 3-star; 23rd best ILB in the nation
Tennessee’s 2014 commitments (247Sports Composite ranking)
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga