Tennessee has been in the mix for defensive end Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn. Brentwood Academy) from the time they were the third program to offer but despite local ties, they were never perceived to be the favorite to land his commitment. However, after a weekend visit to Ohio State, the Volunteers are currently the front-runners to bring in the four-star defensive end, and it could happen very soon.
The Buckeyes already have commitments from a pair of defensive ends Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill. Montini Catholic) and Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va. Lake Taylor) and potentially could move athlete Sam Hubbard (Cincinnati, Ohio. Archbishop Moeller) to the defensive line.
Barnett left Columbus with rave reviews about his visit and about defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, but those aforementioned additions to the Buckeyes could leave Barnett as the odd man out as the Buckeyes may not prefer to use another scholarship on a defensive end.
This is outstanding news for the Vols, who offered Barnett on Jan. 20 this year and have hosted him on three occasions, including the Orange and White spring game in April and as recently as Jun. 2. Credit here goes to tight ends coach Mark Elder and defensive line coach Steve Stripling for their continued pursuit of the 6-foot-3.5, 265-pound Barnett.
I predict Barnett to commit to Tennessee and whispers have been floating that he could commit today on his birthday. I could not confirm these whispers, however, and it has been reported that the likely time of his commitment would be in August prior to the start of his senior season.
Barnett has been recruited by some schools to play defensive tackle, but he has maintained his preference is to play end where Tennessee initially will line him up.
If Barnett continues to gain weight and approach the 285-300-pound, mark a move to the interior of the line may be a formality in his future. His weight has been recorded with ranges from 265-281. However, he is an end for now and should be viewed as such.
He would be the second end to commit for the class of 2014 joining fellow four-star recruit Joe Henderson (Cleveland, Ohio. Shaker Heights). Henderson and Barnett are the 13th and 14th-ranked ends according to 247 respectively. Furthermore, I believe he would represent the first from Brentwood Academy to commit to Tennessee since David Holbert in 2004.
Barnett is coming off a junior season in which he recorded 52 tackles, 14 for loss and six sacks. He is also a standout shot putter and discus thrower for the Brentwood track and field team, having thrown the shot more than 50 feet and the discus more than 144 feet.
That strength, quick feet and athleticism will play well coming of the edge of the Volunteers defensive line, or more likely as a disruptive “three-technique” defensive tackle.