Tennessee’s star defensive end of the present is doing what he can to help the Vols land their star defensive end of the future.
Derek Barnett, a Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2015 who has 20 career sacks in two years in Knoxville, tweeted on Monday evening that he’s been in contact with Kongbo, the nation’s top junior college prospect and a huge priority for the Vols down the stretch as they look to close strong on National Signing Day.
Great talk with @King_Kongbo Good luck Wednesday bro!
— Derek Barnett (@dbarnett25) February 2, 2016
While we don’t know the exact premise of the conversation, Barnett actually could have a very convincing pitch to Kongbo.
Barnett clearly has seen immense success in Tennessee’s defensive scheme, and while he’ll have one of the starting jobs locked down in 2016, he very well could move on to the NFL after this season, possibly leaving both defensive end spots up for the taking in 2017 and beyond.
Kongbo will enter 2016 with three years of eligibility. He could easily take a season to work his way into the rotation and learn the ropes and then be ready to become a major factor by 2017. If he accelerates that process, he could even be a candidate to start opposite Barnett in 2016, though the Vols do have some other talented players at that spot such as Corey Vereen, Kyle Phillips and others.
As a redshirt freshman at Arizona Western Community College in 2015, Kongbo III recorded 49 tackles, 12 TFLs and 9.5 sacks, per the team’s official site. His recruitment picked up steam in the middle of his JUCO season before he eventually committed to Tennessee, then opened his recruitment back up, but remained extremely interested in the Vols throughout the process.
He’s expected to choose between Tennessee, Ole Miss, USC and Florida State, which got his final official visit over the past weekend, on National Signing Day – which is this Wednesday.