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Vol Coach Compares Crouch to Al Wilson, Kevin Burnett

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Tennessee has had some phenomenal linebackers in the program’s storied past. And UT’s coaches are hoping they just added one of the program’s future greats at that position in the 2019 signing class.

Four-star athlete Quavaris Crouch officially signed with Tennessee in the early signing period on Friday, giving the Vols their 19th signee in the 2019 class. Crouch was at one point rated as the No. 1 overall player in the 2019 cycle, but he suffered an injury in his first game of his senior year and ended up sitting out the rest of the season. As a result, he dropped in recruiting rankings, though he’s still rated as a top-50 overall player by almost every recruiting outlet.

But rankings mean little to coaches, and it’s evident Tennessee’s coaches think very, very highly of Crouch.

What are the Vols getting from Quavaris Crouch? We take a look in our Big Orange Impact Report over on RTI Premium!

In high school, Crouch made a name for himself as a running back. He amassed some eye-popping totals on the ground as a running back for Harding University in Charlotte, North Carolina, but he will play linebacker for the Vols. Crouch played both at running back and linebacker for Harding as a junior, and he was wildly successful at both.

As a junior, Crouch ran for 3,246 yards and 33 touchdowns and was just a few hundred yards shy of breaking the county record for most rushing yards in a single season. On defense, Crouch totaled 51 tackles and 14 sacks despite playing more snaps on offense.

Crouch himself wants to move to linebacker in order to ensure he has a longer playing career, and Jeremy Pruitt himself advised Crouch throughout his recruitment that it might be in his best interest to play linebacker. And that’s where the 6-foot-3, 230-pound athlete will play once he enrolls early at UT in January.

UT’s coaches think the sky is the limit for Crouch at linebacker, and Tennessee tight ends coach and Crouch’s main recruiter, Brian Niedermeyer, compared him to two of the best linebackers to play for the Vols in the last two decades.

“He reminds you of the greats like Al Wilson, Kevin Burnett,” Niedermeyer said in a video released on Tennessee’s official Twitter account. “The guy can play from sideline-to-sideline. He has pass rush ability, and he’s a knock-back tackler. This guy’s fast. The guy has incredible intensity. He’s a leader.”

Al Wilson to this day is a fan favorite among the Big Orange faithful. He was a captain on UT’s undefeated 1998 National Championship team and was the heart and soul of that lights-out defense. Wilson ranked third on the team that year with 77 tackles despite missing three games due to injury, and he set the school record for most fumbles caused in a game when he forced three in UT’s dramatic win over Florida that season. Wilson was voted as an All-American selection in 1998 and was drafted in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He played in the NFL for eight seasons, and he was a five-time Pro Bowl selection.

Kevin Burnett played for the Vols from 2001-04 and enjoyed a very memorable final year in 2004. He totaled 120 tackles and was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-SEC selection that year. In four seasons with Tennessee, Burnett amassed 264 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, eight pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, and three forced fumbles. He was drafted in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys and spent nine years in the NFL.

If Crouch lives up to Niedermeyer’s billing and plays like Wilson or Burnett did at Tennessee, then Vol fans will greatly enjoy the next three or four years Crouch is in orange.

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