The middle of Tennessee’s defense added some serious potential on Sunday night. Kansas defensive tackle DaJon Terry announced on Twitter that he is transferring to Tennessee.
Terry’s path to Knoxville has been unconventional. According to interviews, Terry’s first year playing football was his senior year of high school in 2018. Despite good size (6-foot-4) and decent high school tape, Terry was offered by just five schools. But two of those—Kansas and Colorado—were Power-5 options. He chose the Jayhawks and had to take a redshirt his freshman year to slim down a bit. One article says he was near 370 pounds when he arrived on campus.
2020 was his breakout season. In just his third year playing football, Terry contributed in eight games and was considered one of the bright spots of the Jayhawks’ defense. Now at a much more reasonable 320 pounds, Terry looked noticeably quicker and more disruptive in the middle of the line. He was almost guaranteed a starting spot if he had stayed on for the next few seasons. Instead, he realized that he’d shown enough to attract serious interest from bigger programs. In his two seasons at Kansas, he totaled 16 tackles and two sacks.
In the subtitle to this article, I propose that Terry is one of the more underrated transfer options in the country. After looking at more of his tape, it becomes obvious that Tennessee grabbed a player who is just now beginning to reach his potential. Many would write him off due to his low recruiting ranking and the school he played at. But we’re talking about a player who picked up the sport less than 3 years ago, and already looks the part of a starting Power-5 defensive tackle. Terry moves well for his size, and he is continuing to grow into his frame.
At Tennessee, he will likely see the field early in obvious running downs. Terry looks most comfortable as a gap plugger who forces the offense to try outside options. His stats won’t pop off the sheet, but his impact is apparent. As he continues to work on his game and grow as a player, he has the athleticism to be used in even more diverse ways.
For now, Terry’s announcement will fly under the radar with most Tennessee fans. But he is definitely a name to keep an eye on. The Volunteers may have just found a future starter on their defensive line.