Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Offseason spotlight: Tennessee
By Edward Aschoff
The offseason spotlight for Tennessee is on a linebacker who missed all of the 2013 season, but could make a big impact on the Vols' defense if he's healthy this fall:
Spotlight: Linebacker Curt Maggitt, 6-foot-3, 239 pounds, redshirt junior
2013 summary: Maggitt missed the entire 2013 season after undergoing offseason surgeries. He was recovering from a season-ending ACL injury from the 2012 season.
The skinny: It has been a while since Maggitt saw the field, but his return would provide a valuable and much-needed spark for Tennessee's defense, which ranked 11th in the SEC in total defense (418.4 yards allowed per game) in 2013. Maggitt could play defensive end if needed, but with the Vols moving to a 4-3 scheme last season he will likely stay at outside linebacker, where Tennessee really needs him. The Vols lost two starting linebackers from last season's team and Maggitt has the ability to create a lot of the big plays that Tennessee lacked last season. Tennessee was last in the SEC in sacks (18) and 12th in tackles for loss (65). He was an excellent pass-rusher at the high school level and being able to hone in on his pass-rushing skills in this defense would be a major plus for the Vols, as they look to find someone who can be consistently disruptive behind the line of scrimmage. They really missed him coming off the edge last year and he'll be used closer to the line when they need to bring more pressure on the quarterback in passing situations. Middle linebacker A.J. Johnson, who is dealing with legal issues at the moment, has been Tennessee's top linebacker for the last few seasons, but he doesn't have the speed that Maggitt possesses. When healthy, Maggitt can fly around the field and give the Vols a more versatile weapon that was missing at linebacker last year. Youth at linebacker also means that the Vols need a lot for Maggitt in 2014.