Tennessee needed to add help in their front seven during the 2018 signing class. And the Vols were able to add a couple prospects who should help in that regard at around the same time on Wednesday.
The Vols picked up signatures from defensive lineman Kurott Garland and junior college defensive tackle Emmit Gooden on National Signing Day mere minutes apart. Garland was previously unrated and had picked up interest from Tennessee early in January once the Vols “discovered” his teammate, Jordan Young, at Heritage High School in Conyers, Georgia. Gooden is a four-star JUCO defensive tackle who was pursued by the Vols while was in high school and played his high school ball in the state of Tennessee.
Garland is viewed as a sleeper prospect because of his gaudy numbers and his solid highlight film. In two years as a starter for Heritage, Garland amassed 251 tackles, 65 tackles for loss, 24.5 sacks, 31 quarterback hurries, an interception, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and three passes defended in 23 games according to Max Preps. That means he averaged 10.9 tackles per game, over a sack per game, and over a tackle for loss per game.
Physically, Garland is a freak. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, he was always one of the biggest players on the field in high school. And according to Jeremy Pruitt’s comments on Wednesday, they’re looking to add more weight on him and move him inside to play tackle. He played both tackle and end in high school and was disruptive at both positions.
Garland wasn’t ranked for almost all of his recruitment, and Tennessee was the only FBS offer he was claiming for a while. Tulane ended up attempting to make a move late, and they got him to visit their campus in late January and extended an offer to him.
Now the 247Sports Composite rankings have Garland rated as a three-star and the No. 1,175 overall player in the country. He was unranked up until a few days ago.
Gooden is a four-star JUCO defensive tackle who is rated as the No. 17 junior college player in the class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. They also have him as the No. 7 JUCO defensive tackle in the 2018 class.
Gooden was pursued by the Vols coming out of high school when he played for Haywood High School in Brownsville, Tennessee. He committed to Tennessee for a little, but then he decommitted and ended up committing to Mississippi State. Ultimately he didn’t sign with the Bulldogs and ended up going to community college at Independence Community College in Kansas.
In seven games, Gooden totaled 55 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.
As long as Gooden qualifies when Tennessee’s coaches think he will, he should be able to come in and have an immediate impact with the Vols. At 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, Gooden has the size to play at nose tackle for Tennessee by just adding a few more pounds. His film shows a versatile tackle who knows how to shed blockers and can get into the backfield.
Tennessee needed to add depth and immediate help in the front seven, and both Garland and Gooden provide that for them.