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Tennessee Most Important Pickup: Legacy Recruit Nigel Warrior

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With plenty of great options thanks to a strong close, safety Nigel Warrior should have the first, best chance to contribute right away for championship-hopeful the 2016 Vols.

Dale Carter was a bad man.
Dale Carter was a bad man.
Mike Powell/Getty Images

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Tennessee's Class of 2016 seemed more fluid in the final days than Butch Jones' last two heralded groups.  It's been built all along on the strength of Jarrett Guarantano, the nation's number one dual threat quarterback.  He ends as the second highest rated Vol signee in the 247 Composite.  But three of Tennessee's top four in this class have just come on board in the last 24 hours.  Last night Miami commit Tyler Byrd, a four star cornerback, flipped from the Canes to the Vols.  This afternoon the number one junior college player, defensive end Jonathan Kongbo, recommitted himself to the Vols by signing on the dotted line.

It's impressive then, in a class including the number one dual threat quarterback and the number one junior college transfer, that Tennessee's highest rated signee ended up being legacy safety Nigel Warrior.

Warrior officially chose the Vols this morning, the latest connection to the VFL bloodline.  His father Dale Carter was an All-American at Tennessee in 1991.  And like his father, a junior college transfer who made big plays for the SEC Champion Vols in his debut in 1990, Warrior will have the biggest opportunity of this class to contribute immediately on a team looking to win an SEC Championship.

Graduation removed safeties Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil from Tennessee's roster, both multi-year starters.  Warrior will be surrounded by legacy teammates:  Todd Kelly, Jr. is likely to win a starting job, while Evan Berry clearly displayed his athleticism in leading the nation in kick returns and will have every opportunity to contribute at safety.

But Warrior should get that same opportunity.  Even if he doesn't earn a starting job, his ability to contribute at safety right away gives Tennessee's defensive backfield the quality depth it hasn't had since the Phillip Fulmer days.  For the last few years the Vols have had trouble even putting a dime package on the field.  Now the Vols have so many good options they can't all get on the field at the same time.

In a crowded field at the top, Nigel Warrior will have a chance to turn his highest rating in the class into a chance to be the first Vol to meaningfully contribute to team Team 120 and beyond.