Projecting the Future: Jason Croom

JASON CROOM, 6-5, 220 WR NORCROSS, GA. [NORCROSS HS]

Ratings: Rivals 4* No. 41 wide receiver No. 19 player in state No. 246 overall, Scout 4* No. 44 wide receiver, ESPN 3* No. 55 wide receiver, 247 4* No.20 wide receiver No. 15 player in the state No. 178 overall. Chose UT over Auburn, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Florida State, South Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Southern Miss, Miami, others.

STRENGTHS: He is a flat-out monster, possessing size and speed that will be a mismatch for any corner. His frame can hold 240-245 pounds, and he will be a nightmare if he moves in closer to the line and gets matched up on a linebacker. Let's put it this way -- Oklahoma State is begging him to visit, telling him he will be the next Justin Blackmon. He is that kind of talent. He is an exceptional blocking receiver who uses his hands well to get off the bump at the line. He also may be used as a red-zone weapon as soon as next year. He is a superb kid with a great family who loves the Vols, and he's one of those kids who has been the epitome of committed.

NEEDS WORK: He has fine speed, but he looks a bit slow to start. Whether that's reactionary or his first step, I'm not sure, but he tends to creep off the line at times. Also, he isn't always sharp running routes. He needs to work on his pivot and sharp cuts. He still put up big numbers on a running team, and the few things he does inconsistently are coachable. There were rumors about his grades -- shot down by his mama on the message boards. Hopefully, there are no issues there.

CREDENTIALS: He was chosen as a member of the Offense-Defense All-American bowl this year. As a junior, he had 32 catches for 506 yards and five touchdowns. He is also a standout basketball player and runs track. Was one of Gwinnett Daily News' Super Six players in the county. He runs a 4.53 40-yard dash and was an all-state selection this year. He finished his senior season with 34 catches for 688 yards and 10 touchdowns for a team that didn't pass a lot.

OPTIMISTIC CEILING: I have visions of matchup nightmares dancing in my head, a cross between Calvin Johnson, Justin Blackmon and Da'Rick Rogers. OK, so Croom may not be THAT good, but he certainly has elite potential, and he is easily one of my five favorite players in this class. I believe he would benefit from a year in the weight room, but the Vols need quality depth at WR immediately, so he'll have every opportunity to play. Hopefully, he can be the red zone threat Matt Milton never was.

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