KNOXVILLE – After adding a huge piece to the offensive line on Tuesday, the Vols got some help on the defensive line on Wednesday.
Defensive lineman Derek Barnett of Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, Tenn., pledged to the Vols via Twitter, giving Tennessee its second big commitment in two days.
Barnett is a 6-foot-3, 275-pound D-lineman (who also plays tight end in high school) who could play either defensive end or defensive tackle at the collegiate level. He picked the Vols over Vanderbilt and Ohio State but also had offers from Ole Miss, South Carolina, LSU, Florida State, Nebraska, Texas A&M and others.
“Jumbo-athlete type with a good blend of size and athleticism,” ESPN.com wrote in a scouting report. “Good height and bulk and carries his weight well with room for additional good mass with time in a college weight program. Displays slightly above average playing speed and good body control and playing strength.”
Barnett is the third defensive lineman to commit to UT’s class of 2014, joining defensive end Joe Henderson and junior college prospect DaVonte Lambert. Barnett is the 26th commitment in a class that is expected to have approximately 30 signees.
He is also the fourth top-10 player from the state of Tennessee (per Rivals.com) who has committed to Jones, joining safety Todd Kelly, defensive back RaShaan Gaulden and running back Jalen Hurd.
How he fits: Barnett gives the Vols options on the defensive front. He could end up as a slightly oversized defensive end who can specialize in run stopping or could grow into one of the two defensive tackle slots.
The Vols will need help at both spots in the near future. They are scheduled to lose three defensive tackles – Daniel McCullers, Daniel Hood and Maurice Couch – after this season in addition to three defensive ends – Jacques Smith, Corey Miller and Marlon Walls.
A few returning defensive linemen such as Danny O’Brien, Jordan Williams and Corey Vereen have worked their way into the defensive line rotation this fall, but all four starters up front will need to be replaced and then the depth behind them will need to be re-stocked. Barnett should have a chance to play early in Knoxville.
ESPN.com: 4-star; 298th nationally; 27th best DE
Rivals.com: 4-star; 235th nationally; 11th best strongside DE
Scout.com: 3-star; 39th best DE
247Sports.com: 4-star; 146th nationally; 8th best strongside DE
247Sports.com Composite: 4-star; 286th nationally; 14th best strongside DE
Tennessee’s 2014 commitments (247Sports Composite ranking):
DL Derek Barnett (4-star)
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga