Elite Linebacker J.J. Peterson: “If I Find a (Tennessee) Hat, It’s Over”

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    (Photo via Dean Legge/Dawg Post, Scout.com)

    Thanks to Jeremy Pruitt and his new staff, the Vols have been able to make progress on several highly-rated recruits who weren’t even options just a month ago. One of those is elite, four-star outside linebacker J.J. Peterson, and it appears Peterson is ready to commit to the Vols.

    During an interview with Benjamin Wolk of SEC Country, Peterson was asked about his recruitment and who his favorite teams were. According to Wolk, Peterson has more or less eliminated Auburn from contention, but the Vols have become the heavy favorites to land his commitment and signature on National Signing Day because of new head coach Jeremy Pruitt and projected defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer.

    “My first official I’m going to (is) the Vols on January 12th,” Peterson told Wolk. “If I find a hat, it’s over.”

    Tennessee is set to host several prospects this month, and they’re also supposed to receive visits from a few prospects the last weekend before National Signing Day in February. And according to Peterson, if he’s able to find a Tennessee hat during his visit with the Vols, he’s ready to commit.

    Peterson was a heavy favorite to go to Alabama before Pruitt was hired as the head coach at Tennessee. Once Pruitt was hired, Peterson’s interests began to shift. And once Pruitt reportedly hired Sherrer, Georgia’s linebackers coach, to be his defensive coordinator, that only further influenced Peterson.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Peterson is the No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2018 class and the No. 44 overall player in the class. He holds offers from all the top SEC schools and also holds offers from Clemson, Florida State, and Michigan among others.

    Pruitt and his staff are expected to slowly transition Tennessee’s defense into more of a 3-4 scheme, and they need some outside linebackers like Peterson in order for that transition to work over the next couple years. Tennessee has defensive end/linebacker hybrid Jordan Allen, a JUCO prospect, signed in their early signing period. They also have outside linebacker Matthew Flint committed in the class, but the fact that he didn’t sign during the early signing period when he wanted to doesn’t bode well for his commitment.