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2017 Meet the Class - Defensive Line

Will Tennessee get some lasting help on the defensive front from the 2017 class?

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Texas A&M Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee struggled on the defensive front at the latter part of last season, being forced to play Kyle Phillips and Jonathan Kongbo at defensive tackle. Luckily, the defensive line might be the strongest group for Tennessee in the 2017 recruiting class. Take a look at the Vols looking to play on the D-Line.

DT Eric Crosby, 6-1, 330 lbs, Virginia Beach, Va.

Eric Crosby is the highest-rated defensive lineman in this class for the Vols, rated as a 4-star by the 247Sports Composite (0.9122) and a 3-star by Rivals (5.7). Crosby committed to Tennessee last April over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and Ohio State. At 330 pounds, Crosby can provide size for the Vols on the interior of the line, something Tennessee desperately needed at the end of the 2016 season.

DE Matthew Butler, 6-4, 280 lbs, Garner, N.C.

Matthew Butler is rated as a 3-star prospect by both the 247Sports Composite (0.8725) and Rivals (5.7). He chose Tennessee in December over his other finalist, Virginia Tech; he also held offers from Penn State, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Butler adds speed to the edge, looking to help UT replace the loss of Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen.

DE LaTrell Bumphus, 6-4, 241 lbs, Savannah, Tenn.

Latrell Bumphus is rated as a 4-star prospect by Rivals (5.8) and a 3-star by the 247Sports Composite (0.8717). Bumphus chose Tennessee last June over offers including most notably Alabama, Oregon and USC. His highlights actually show him playing tight end in high school, displaying an athleticism that will definitely benefit the Vols on the defensive front.

DT Kivon Bennett, 6-2, 280 lbs, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Kivon Bennett is rated as a 4-star recruit by RIvals (5.8) and a 3-star by the 247Sports Composite (0.8702). Bennett committed to Butch Jones and his staff last summer over offers from other SEC powers Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU, among others. He played at traditional Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas High School and looks to transfer his talents and success to the field in the SEC.

DE Deandre Johnson, 6-3, 235 lbs, Miami, Fla.

Another defensive lineman from the Sunshine State, Deandre Johnson was rated as a 3-star recruit by both the 247 Sports Composite (0.8519) and Rivals (5.5). Johnson was originally committed to Mississippi State, but decommitted from the Bulldogs and flipped to the Vols in December. Johnson also enrolled early and will be able to take part in spring practice.

DE Ryan Thaxton, 6-5, 230 lbs, Alexandria, Va.

Ryan Thaxton is rated as a 3-star prospect by both the 247Sports Composite (0.8497) and Rivals (5.6). Thaxton committed to Tennessee in January, just a few weeks before National Signing Day. His other top offers included Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.