Vols Among Top Teams for Four-Star Pass Rusher

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    (Photo via Jay Westcott/News & Record)

    Tennessee needs plenty of pass rushers in their 2020 recruiting class, and they’re in on several highly-touted defensive ends in this cycle. One of those edge rushers tweeted out his top schools on Wednesday, and the Vols were included among his favorites.

    Myles Murphy is a four-star defensive end who plays for Southwest Guilford out of High Point, North Carolina. On Wednesday, he tweeted out a list of his top 10 schools, and the Vols were one of the top teams along with teams like Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida, and others.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Murphy is the No. 175 overall prospect in the 2020 class and ranks as the 10th-best strong-side defensive end as well. He sky-rocketed up the recruiting rankings after his junior season wrapped up, going from being ranked just inside the top-600 prospects in the 2020 cycle to being ranked inside the top-200.

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    The Vols were just the third school to offer Murphy, so getting in early could potentially give Tennessee an advantage. Western Carolina and North Carolina gave him his first offers, and the Vols extended an offer to the 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end back on August 24th, 2018. Since then, Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Oregon, Wisconsin, Nebraska, LSU, Michigan, Texas, and Miami are among the dozens of schools that have offered him.

    There’s actually another defensive end in the 2020 recruiting cycle named Myles Murphy, and the Vols are in on him as well. The other Murphy is a five-star who plays for Hillgrove in Powder Springs, Georgia.

    This Murphy is a talented player out of North Carolina, and the Vols will have plenty of competition to land him.

    Murphy just knows how to make plays and always sets himself up well to make them. He does a good job setting the edge as a run defender, and he’s a very good tackler. Where he really excels, however, is as a pass rusher. He’s explosive and has a quick first step. He doesn’t have a lot of wasted movement, and he uses his hands well to defeat blocks. Murphy also does a good job keeping a low base and maintaining leverage against blockers. He will still need to work on his bend at the next level, and he needs to develop a few counters to his pass rushing moves. But he is already a very polished player, and it’s clear to see why he’s moved up in recruiting rankings and has gotten so much attention lately.

    As a junior for Southwest Guilford, Murphy totaled 53 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks according to MaxPreps.

    Murphy isn’t the only highly-rated pass rusher out of North Carolina the Vols are pursuing. Four-star defensive end Jacolbe Cowan over in Charlotte is another, and Tennessee is also pursuing a handful of other big-time targets at defensive end such as in-state defensive ends Tyler Baron, Jay Hardy, and Reggie Grimes as well as the aforementioned Myles Murphy out of Georgia and BJ Ojulari and Greg Hudgins.

    Getting Murphy on campus for a visit is a must for Tennessee if they have any chance of landing his signature later on, and expect the Vols to push for him to visit sometime this spring.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.