One key storyline that we were all following during Tennessee training camp was the status of freshman linebacker JJ Peterson. The Vols’ highest ranked commitment of the 2018 class took it to the buzzer, but was cleared by the NCAA just hours before the season began.
With all of fall camp lost, Peterson’s shot at play at all in 2018 was dim. Today, it sounds like not much has changed on that front.
“You know, to paint the picture a little bit, if he’d have gotten here in June, it would probably be like right now is about the middle of July,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said on Wednesday. “Everybody else was here in June, and then when you get to August, you have all these practices. For him, really the reality of it is, by the time we get to the end of the season would be almost like the end of fall camp.”
Peterson’s focus throughout the summer was getting his academics in order as he tried to get enrolled by the fall semester. Through all of this, according to Pruitt, Peterson was unable to stay in football shape. That along with learning the defense and an overall lack of reps is what will likely hold Peterson back for much if not all of 2018.
“We don’t have football every day like you do in fall camp,” Pruitt said. “We’re not practicing threes and fours. We’re practicing ones and twos and getting ready for ballgames. Right now he’s competing on the scout team, doing a really good job. His body is changing, which is important. He’s doing a good job for us and he’s getting better every day.”
Peterson was the 48th ranked player in the 2018 class, according to 247 Sports. He was a candidate for early playing time at Tennessee until the events of this summer held him back. 2018 will probably end up being a wash and a redshirt season for him, but Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer should have a defensive weapon to unleash on the field in 2019.