DANIEL MCCULLERS, 6-6, 380 DT RALEIGH, N.C. [SOUTHEAST RALEIGH HS/GEORGIA MILITARY COLLEGE]
Ratings: Rivals 4* No. 6 overall JUCO player, Scout 3*, 247 3*. Chose UT over Alabama, Mississippi State, N.C. State.
STRENGTHS: Well, first of all, he's bigger than a barn and strong as an ox, so when you put him at the nose guard in a 3-4, the center of the line looks like a pile-up on I-40. He also is surprisingly athletic and quicker on his feet than most 380-pounders [like there are many ...] The best thing about McCullers to me is he doesn't look sloppy or lazy. It's not every day that you can weigh what he weighs and not look like you're laboring. While I'm sure he doesn't have the same stamina as most out there, he looks to be in pretty good shape, and he looks to play hard the majority of the time. With his height, it will be tough for quarterbacks to throw over him across the middle.
NEEDS WORK: He is going to be a disrupter because of his size, but he is never going to be a technician. He simply can't help playing high sometimes because of his height, and he's a bit slow at the point of attack. He doesn't need to rush the passer -- that's not his game -- but he will be dynamic at what he does best which is clog the hole. Scout knocks his lateral quickness, which is kind of laughable to me. You never expect a guy like McCullers or Terrence Cody to make a tackle downfield. You want them to plug the middle of the field. In that, McCullers can't help but be great if he just doesn't get knocked off the ball, which he doesn't often. I'm also going to throw this out there: You just don't know about his grades. Though I've not heard of any worries academically it's happened before that UT struggled to get JUCO DTs in school. I will worry until he's in uniform for fall drills.
CREDENTIALS: As a freshman at GMC he had 27 tackles, one interception, four pass deflections and 15 sacks. Last year, he had 37 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, and two sacks. He is the No. 38 JUCO player according to 247. He was second-team all state as a senior in high school.
OPTIMISTIC CEILING: While he will draw inevitable comparisons to "Mount Cody", Mt. McCullers says his game more closely resembles Patriots 6-2, 340-pound DT Vince Wilfork. Either one of those would be fine with us. McCullers actually looks in much better condition than Cody, and he is bigger and taller than Cody. Still, Cody was a disruptive force and an All-American at Alabama. If McCullers can reach that level, then the Vols are going to be greatly improved immediately. He may not be the best commitment UT has this year, but he is arguably the most important. As the Vols transition to a 3-4, a player of his size can make up for a lot of mistakes with his size. He will almost certainly be an NFL player if he could drop 20-30 pounds and keep playing hard.