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Tennessee Football 2018 Breakout Players: Linebacker J.J. Peterson

It’s time to take a look at what the Vols top recruit of 2018 brings to the table.

Sports: Tennessee Practice
Head coach Jeremy Pruitt is pretty much the reason why Peterson chose Tennessee.
Caitie McMekin-USA TODAY Sports

When life is rough, it’s always key to stay positive.

During one of the more tumultuous times in recent Tennessee history, Vols fans had to do just so when it came to recruiting for the 2018 season. Coming off of the worst season in school history — one that rendered Ohio State as the only team in college football history to forego the suffering of a 4-8 season and followed with an even more unpredictable/disatrous coaching search — followers of the bright orange were left wondering how things would shake out.

Soon enough, things began to change for the better. Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was hired as the team’s new head coach on December 7, 2017 and less than a month later, he nailed his first big recruit of the 2018 season.

Pruitt was able to steal the nation’s third-ranked outside linebacker J.J. Peterson (24/7 composite) from Alabama. Peterson is not your typical millennial. Relationships mean a lot to the kid and the fact that UT had not only Pruitt, but former Georgia Bulldogs linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer at the helm essentially sealed the deal for Peterson.

He didn’t even have to take an official trip to Knoxville before he committed to the Vols. Pruitt had already established that much of a bond with him. Another factor that aided in Peterson’s recruitment was Pruitt’s bond with Peterson’s former high school coach, Rush Propst.

So now that Peterson is on his way to Rocky Top, what does he bring to the table? Not only does he represent a much-needed rush off the edge - Peterson is a building block for Pruitt and his defensive scheme.

Peterson is an excellent athlete and a violent tackler. He’s very explosive off the line of scrimmage and he sheds blocks well. He’s pretty much the complete package at the position.

The Vols had one of the worst defenses in the country last season. They didn’t look much better in the spring game, but Peterson wasn’t present, and neither were top linebackers Daniel Bituli and Darrin Kirkland, Jr.

Peterson’s presence should help change that instantly.

Just watch his speed off the edge as he blows by a tackle - or what I though was supposed to be a tackle:

Another great example of his athleticism and speed are even more apparent here as he blows by a cornerback to catch this touchdown:

Tennessee has a sure-fire playmaker on their hands. Peterson alone could make the Vols a respectable defense and after the last couple of seasons — that’s manna, baby.