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Reranking Tennessee’s 2014 Signing Class

Derek Barnett-1-6

 Defensive Line

Derek Barnett
Initial ranking: ★★★
Was it a good ranking? Strangely enough…it wasn’t. Derek Barnett started ten out of Tennessee’s thirteen games at defensive end on his way to the most prolific season by a freshman defensive lineman in the history of Tennessee football. The Brentwood Academy product would finish the season with 72 tackles (most by a true freshman in the SEC in 2014), 20.5 tackles for loss (fifth all-time in UT history and most since 2000) and 10 sacks (most ever by a true freshman at Tennessee). Barnett accomplished all of this after arriving on campus in June and earning his way into the rotation during fall camp. He now enters his sophomore season as one of the most feared defensive linemen in the SEC, and the addition of more talent around him should free him up to make even more plays in 2015.
Rerank: (Yes, six stars.)

Joe Henderson
Initial ranking: ★★★
Was it a good ranking? Unfortunately, Henderson’s first season at Tennessee was also his last, so his ranking is hard to assess. The Cleveland, Ohio native struggled with the speed of the game during summer camp and could never work his way into the rotation at defensive end. Henderson was later sidelined by the NCAA in October for academic concerns, and ultimately decided to move on from Tennessee. He ended his career as a Vol having never played a down.
Rerank: Incomplete

Dewayne Hendrix
Initial ranking: ★★★
Was it a good ranking? The highest-rated incoming defensive lineman certainly looked the part. He had the size of somebody who could grow into a defensive tackle, but the athleticism of a defensive end. A lot of people thought he could be a breakout star as a freshman, but it was never to be for the high four-star prospect. Hendrix made a few appearances in the rotation, but somewhat faded as the season went on, and then left the program after the season. It’s not entirely clear if it was an issue with how he was used or differences with the coaching staff or something else, but Hendrix certainly is one of the disappointments, at least for UT, from this class. If reranked now, we’d knock him down a star because he could never find his role as a freshman in Knoxville, but he could still have a good career for some program if he puts it all together.
Rerank: ★★★

Dimarya Mixon
Initial ranking: ★★★
Was it a good ranking? It looks about right. Mixon didn’t have a huge year for the Vols, but he did provide some depth along the interior of Tennessee’s defensive line. Dimarya would see snaps in every game of the 2014 season for the Vols, tallying four solo tackles and two quarterback hurries. Again, not eye-popping numbers, but he was able to allow Jordan Williams an occasional rest and looks to provide more solid depth for the Vols in 2015. He now offers an experienced and capable body for the defensive tackle rotation moving forward.
Rerank: ★★★

Charles Mosley
Initial ranking: ★★★
Was it a good ranking? There is no way of knowing anything about Mosley at this point. A car accident in July left “Big Charles” with a broken tibia in his left leg, and the mammoth lineman spent his first season in Knoxville rehabbing his injury. It was announced recently that Mosley will be able to participate some during the Vols’ upcoming spring practice, so that will be our first chance to see him in action. While he came to Tennessee listed as a defensive tackle by most recruiting services, it wouldn’t surprise us to see him get his first look along the offensive line.
Rerank: Incomplete

Michael Sawyers
Initial ranking: ★★★
Was it a good ranking? Perhaps, but not for his time at Tennessee. Sawyers bounced between offensive line and defensive tackle during fall camp before finding a home at defensive tackle during the 2014 season. He played in four games, tallying only two tackles, and was one of the most criticized players by Butch Jones and Steve Stripling all season for his lack of effort and focus during practice. He has some talent, but never worked hard enough to develop it. Sawyers was a player that the Vols kind of stole from Vanderbilt last year after James Franklin announced he was headed to Penn State, and it just never felt like Tennessee was where he wanted to be. Sawyers was dismissed from the team by Butch Jones in February.
Rerank: ★★

Owen Williams
Initial ranking: ★★★
Was it a good ranking? Close, but probably not. When healthy, Williams played in every game and impacted more plays than his season stats would indicate. He missed the UTC game after undergoing thumb surgery, but in the other 12 games of the season he registered 21 tackles, two sacks and a pass breakup. Had the thumb injury not occured and set him back a touch, it isn’t hard to imagine him having an even bigger impact than he did. Much like Dimarya Mixon, Williams’ numbers don’t explode off the sheet, but he provided a spark during his limited snaps and looks poised for a big step forward in 2015.
Rerank: ★★★

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