Projecting the Future: Otha Peters

OTHA PETERS, 6-1, 230 LB COVINGTON, LA. [COVINGTON HS]

Ratings: Rivals 4* No. 6 inside linebacker No. 126 overall player in the nation No. 4 player in Louisiana, Scout 3* No. 74 outside linebacker, ESPN 3* No. 38 outside linebacker No. 8 player in Louisiana, 247 4* No. 13 outside linebacker No. 161 overall player in the nation No. 5 player in Louisiana. Chose UT over Arkansas, TCU, Arizona, Nebraska, Kansas State, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Southern Miss, Texas A&M, others.

STRENGTHS: Peters is big and fast with an incredibly projectable frame and a nose for the football. After a standout senior season landed him on the radar of most teams in the nation -- and earned him a major bump from Rivals.com -- Peters looks like the type of linebacker who has instant-impact ability. He also is likely UT's most important commitment or in the top two after Dalton Santos defected for Texas. Peters has great lateral quickness and the type of body that can lend itself to either inside or outside linebacker. He's not a true middle, but he probably has the speed to play one of the two inside spots in a 3-4. He also has very good form tackling.

NEEDS WORK: He has very good definition after a hard year on the weights, but he's still a bit of a tweener, needing to decide whether he needs to train to be inside or outside. If he can hold the weight, he'd be a terror at one of the inner positions. He really showed out, earning West MVP in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, and he has a thick body that probably needs to hold about 240 pounds when he is done. He can punish running backs, but he needs to be more consistent plugging the gaps.

CREDENTIALS: Peters was West MVP of the Offense-Defense Bowl and perhaps earned his rankings boost with the performance. He also was credited for best tackler award in the game by Rivals. Finished his all-state and All-America senior year with 153 tackles and 7.5 sacks.

OPTIMISTIC CEILING: The Vols desperately need Peters to stay committed, and most believe he will. He has the ability to play immediately, and with UT moving to a 3-4, he almost certainly will get on the field as a true freshman. Peters reminds me a lot of Jerod Mayo, and I think his career will play out almost just like the UT great. Mayo came into Knoxville a smidge undersized but swelled to 240 by the time he left after his junior year. Peters has that similar frame and is thick enough to hold that weight and fast enough to be disruptive at it. He's a crucial keep for UT.

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