Tennessee Vols JUCO Linebacker signee Chris Weatherd looks like he will be cleared academically in time to join team for first practice. Reports have surfaced that this will happen right away, and a sigh of relief can be heard coming out of Knoxville.
It had been speculated that Weatherd would not be available to the Vols this season. This news is huge for a Defense that is short on depth at the Linebacker position.
Weatherd was ranked the number 1 outside linebacker prospect in the country this past season. He has great size at 6’3″ 220 and can run sideline to sideline. He will be counted on to play early and often this Fall.
This will bolster a linebacking corp that is seeing many of its’ numbers moving to the defensive line due to the lack of talent and depth there as well. Ex linebacker Curt Maggitt will be the biggest loss to the linebacker unit. Maggitt will be asked to put his hand on the ground from the Defensive End position due to his size and speed.
The linebackers will be led by Senior and pre-season All SEC selection AJ Johnson. He will once again anchor the middle. He is an excellent tackler and gets to the ball carrier. He has worked hard in the offseason to increase his speed which should help with his less than to be desired coverage skills.
The backups in the middle will be redshirt sophomore Kenny Bynum and Freshman Gavin Bryant, who is destined to be a star at Tennessee.
Outside Linebackers will be Jalen Reeves Maybin, who at 6’1″ 214 lbs is small, but all over the field, and either Weatherd or Dillon Bates. Bates of course is a true freshman. Backups are the promising Neiko Creamer and Sophomore’s Justin King and Colton Jumper.
This is a talented group of linebackers, but they are extremely young and a little small for SEC battles. There is not enough time to remedy the latter this Fall. The overall speed has been upgraded tremendously, and I believe these guys are football players. That can make up for shear size. For now, it will have to.