Tennessee has a need at inside linebacker. Not necessarily by way of numbers, but they’re lacking some serious experience after the departure of Daniel Bituli. Henry To’o To’o will take over in the middle of Tennessee’s defense, but that’s where the answers stop.
Quavaris Crouch would seem to be the other answer, but he will miss all of spring with an injury. After that it’s an unproven J.J. Peterson, then three four-star freshmen who will no participate in spring ball.
How did this happen? Well, Tennessee lost Will Ignont and Shanon Reid to transfers early in the 2019 season. Jeremy Banks was then removed from the team. While Jeremy Pruitt and his staff did an outstanding job rebuilding the position quickly, there’s no substitute for experience.
Enter Jabril Cox — a star linebacker transferring from FCS North Dakota State. Cox is ready for a bigger challenge after earning three FCS titles and a 45-1 record with the Bison.
The interest around the college football world was instant, and massive. More than 40 FBS teams reached out to Cox via Twitter after his announcement on Monday morning.
Per Max Olson of The Athletic, Cox only followed back coaches of Alabama, LSU and Tennessee.
Cox stands in at 6-3, 233 pounds and is already a two time All-American. He put up 258 tackles, 14 sacks and 32 tackles for loss in his career. Now with a senior season left to play, Cox is looking to make a move to the SEC, if you follow the Twitter follows. One potential non-SEC fit could be Kansas State, who hired away Chris Klieman from North Dakota State last season.
For Tennessee, Cox offers a versatile body that can handle inside responsibilities while also offering pass rush and pass coverage ability. These are the types of guys that Jeremy Pruitt values, and it sounds like he’s already gotten past the first barrier of contact.
File this one away and we’ll see what comes of it. Whether he lands at Tennessee or not, the chances sound pretty good that someone in the SEC will be adding an impact defender to the front seven of their defense.