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What Else Can We Say About Derek Barnett?

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A few of our favorite moments from an all-time great at Tennessee.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - Nebraska v Tennessee Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Tennessee fans have been making the Derek-Barnett-over-Myles-Garrett argument for so long it’s become a reflex. So yes, Barnett was more productive in sacking the quarterback now matter how you slice it statistically.

Derek Barnett vs Myles Garrett

Player Sacks SEC Sacks Ranked Sacks Winning Record Power 5
Player Sacks SEC Sacks Ranked Sacks Winning Record Power 5
Barnett 33 29 10 19 32
Garrett 32.5 12 6 17.5 16.5

And yes, Garrett is still a tremendous football player who is going to get drafted first and possibly first overall.

But whoever takes Barnett - which will probably be a team that values simply watching the film over combine results - will get one of the greatest players to ever play at a school that is in the Top 10 all-time in sending players to the NFL. If Barnett goes in the first 18 picks, he’ll be the highest Vol taken since Eric Berry went fifth overall in 2010. If he goes in the Top 15 he’ll join Berry and Jerod Maryo (10th in 2008) as the only Vols taken there since 2002.

Here’s one last look at a few of his biggest moments in orange:

2014 Ole Miss

Before Justin Worley got hurt and the Vols lost 31-3 to #3 Ole Miss, Tennessee’s defense held the Rebels to no points on their first seven drives, then turned them away twice to open the third quarter with the score at only 14-3. True freshman Barnett had three sacks on Bo Wallace in this game, an eye-opening performance he would soon prove was no fluke.

2014 South Carolina

Josh Dobbs got most of the credit, and rightfully so, in his coming out party. But Tennessee’s epic comeback in the final minutes from a 42-28 deficit doesn’t happen if Barnett doesn’t earn a sack on 3rd-and-4 with 1:38 to play and the Vols down to their final timeout. And then in overtime with the Vols up 45-42, after Curt Maggitt scored a sack on first down, Barnett doubled down to push the Gamecocks hopelessly out of field goal range. These two plays were instrumental in one of Butch Jones’ most important wins at Tennessee.

2015 Northwestern

The hit, the fumble, and the walkaway. Oof.

2016 Florida

Another example of the overall moment getting so big it overshadowed Barnett’s spectacular individual performance, which is exactly what you want from a team perspective. 3rd-and-10 with the Vols down 21-10 with two minutes to play in the third quarter? Barnett gets a sack. 3rd-and-6 on the next drive with the Vols down 21-17 on the first play of the fourth quarter? Barnett gets a sack. The offensive explosion that would unfold over the next few minutes makes the highlight reel, but Barnett’s two sacks set the stage for Tennessee’s biggest win of the decade.

2016 Nebraska

It’s not just the record-breaker, when Barnett finally earned the one sack he needed to separate himself from Reggie White in Tennessee’s record book. But it was the entire game, with all eyes on him and a Nebraska team that finished the year 14th nationally in sacks allowed doing everything they could to stop him. I’ve never seen a defensive lineman under a bigger spotlight in a single game, and Barnett still came through.