Vols Offer Defensive Tackle with State Record in Weight Lifting

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    (Photo via Patti Blake/The News Herald)

    Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt wants to beef up the Vols’ lines of scrimmage over the next few years, and he addressed that in a big way in the 2019 recruiting class. The Vols added five offensive linemen who are an average height of 6-foot-4 and average over 307 pounds in bulk, and UT signed three defensive linemen with an average height of over 6-foot-3 and an average weight of nearly 312 pounds. The Vols also brought in Michigan defensive line transfer Aubrey Solomon who measures in at 6-foot-5, 306 pounds.

    But Pruitt’s efforts to revamp the Vols’ lines of scrimmage aren’t stopping with just one recruiting class; he and UT’s other coaches are wanting to continue that overhaul in the next few recruiting cycles as well.

    The Vols have already offered several highly-rated prospects along the offensive and defensive lines in the 2020 class, and they’re targeting several prospects who will add instant strength and bulk to the roster. Tennessee continued that trend recently when they sent out an offer to a defensive tackle down in Florida with some impressive numbers in the weight room.

    Agelu Nunu is a 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle who plays for Union County in Lake Butler, Florida. Up until recently, Nunu hasn’t received much Power Five attention, but that changed when the Vols gave him an offer.

    Nunu has just started to get attention by recruiting services, and he’s barely ranked as a three-star by 247Sports. He has an offer from Arizona, and that’s his only other Power Five offer besides UT’s at the moment. He also holds offers from UAB, Troy, Southern Miss, FAU, and Air Force among others.

    Though he doesn’t have a lot of big-time offers and isn’t rated very highly, that could soon change assuming Nunu attends camps over the spring and summer months.

    Nunu is a beast in the weight room, and he posted a video back in March of himself totaling 44 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Granted, many of those reps probably wouldn’t have counted in an actual combine setting, but the 17-year-old still likely got in 30 or more “real” reps where his elbows locked.

    Take a look at the video yourself:

    For comparison, the top performer at the 2019 NFL Combine this year was Weber State offensive lineman Iosua Opeta who totaled 39 reps on the bench press. Clemson defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Albert Huggins tied for second with 35 reps each. There have only ever been eight participants at NFL Combine since 1998 who have totaled 44 or more reps on the bench press.

    Not only that, but Nunu recently just set the high school record in the state of Florida with a 525-pound bench press.

    But how about on the football field? Does that weight room strength translate to the field?

    It sure does.

    Nunu gets double-teamed time and time again on his highlight film, and he’s able to blast through those double teams like they’re nothing. Whether it’s stopping the run or pursuing the quarterback, Nunu is effective at both. He can move surprisingly well for his size, though he won’t rack up a ton of sacks at the next level. He’s a space eater, but he can do more than that, too. Nunu will likely have to learn some more technique once he gets to college, and he’ll need to improve his conditioning, too. But that work in the weight room isn’t just for show; Nunu is a powerful defensive tackle who sheds blocks with ease.

    As a junior for Union County, Nunu totaled 34 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, six forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, two passes defended, and two blocked kicks according to MaxPreps. In his sophomore and junior seasons combined, Nunu has amassed 72 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 39 quarterback hurries, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and five passes defended. He also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery as a sophomore.

    Tennessee currently has two defensive linemen committed to them in their 2020 recruiting class. Four-star defensive tackle Dominic Bailey and No. 1 overall JUCO player and four-star defensive end Jordan Davis are UT’s two defensive line commits in the 2020 cycle.



    Nathanael Rutherford
    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.