It took a lot longer than any of us ever thought it would. But it’s official: 4-star defensive end Tyler Baron announced he would sign with the Tennessee Volunteers.
To call this recruitment a headache would be accurate. For someone whose dad works at the university, who lives in Knoxville, who was made a priority by the staff for almost two years...it was all said and done that Baron would join the class by the end of the summer. Then, he held off on making it official for a bit.
Makes sense. Some recruits like to build suspense. The assumption was that the season results would be enough to pull him in.
That’s where things went off the rails. Some will tell you that it was all a smokescreen, that Baron was choosing Tennessee regardless of what happened in 2019. Honestly? I disagree. I think that Tennessee’s disastrous start, combined with very strong pushes from Ohio State and Oklahoma, gave him serious pause. At one point in the middle of the season, I think Tennessee was no longer the front runner.
But the season’s finish and renewed push by the staff meant that Baron’s concerns were alleviated. Though it took until December 18th to conclude, Baron’s recruitment ends with a signature for Tennessee.
Now, on to what he brings on the field.
Baron is by far the most important defensive recruit in the entire 2020 class. If you really wanted to, you could make an argument he’s the most important recruit overall. Baron is 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds and fits best at strongside defensive end, which is a position where Tennessee sorely needs an upgrade in talent. They’re getting it with Baron, who amassed over 100 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and four forced fumbles as a senior at Knoxville Catholic. To be clear: strongside defensive ends don’t typically put up those type of numbers. Baron is simply that good.
When you look at his tape, it’s hard to see what Baron does wrong, or what limitation he might have. He possesses perfect size, good strength, relentless pursuit, great burst off the snap, exciting physicality, solid discipline, and welcomed versatility. That’s a lot of adjectives and generalities...but they all apply. If you want to watch what a fundamentally sound and naturally talented defensive end looks like, watch Baron’s tape.
All these factors make me believe Baron will contribute early. He fills a position of need for the Vols and fills it with flying colors. These are the types of players who become the bedrock of competitive teams and are remembered as pivotal recruiting wins on the trail. Baron will be welcomed with open arms in Neyland Stadium.
Baron ranks as the 112th overall player and the fifth strongside defensive end. He is Tennessee’s third commit on the defensive line. He is the second top-150 lineman after defensive tackle Omari Thomas.