Tennessee defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt will return for his senior season, according to 247Sports.
The versatile redshirt junior had a breakout season in 2014 after missing the end of 2012 and all of the 2013 season with a torn ACL, recording a team-high 11 sacks and coming in second to Derek Barnett on the roster in tackles for loss with 14.
But much of Maggitt’s impact couldn’t be measured by stats. He was one of the unquestioned leaders of the team, especially after the suspension of A.J. Johnson and certainly will head into 2015 in the same position. His versatility was also critical for Tennessee as he played defensive end, outside linebacker and even lined up as an inside linebacker when some formations called for it.
The 6-foot-3, 251-pound defender’s return gives Tennessee a ton of flexibility and depth next year in the front seven. Expect Maggitt to play defensive end in Tennessee’s nickel package and bump to outside linebacker when the Vols go into a more traditional 4-3 look or in goal-line type settings.
Regardless of where he lines up, the Vols should have a plethora of edge pass rushers including Maggitt, Derek Barnett, Corey Vereen, Chris Weatherd, Kyle Phillips, LaTroy Lewis, Andrew Butcher and more to pair with what should be an improved bunch of defensive tackles.
Also of note is Butch Jones’ success “re-recruiting” players to return to school. Since becoming the established head coach at Tennessee (not counting his first month on the job), four of the five players who seriously looked into early entry in the NFL – A.J. Johnson, Maggitt, Ja’Wuan James and Zach Fulton – decided to come back for their senior year. Tiny Richardson went pro after his junior season in 2013.