Vols Among Top Contenders for Speedy Pass Rusher

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    (Photo via Andrew Ivins/247Sports)

    Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said during SEC Media Days last week that the Vols are in need of more pass rushers moving forward. Right now, UT only has five on the roster, and they’ll be losing Darrell Taylor to graduation after the 2019 season.

    “Outside linebacker, we got some guys that returned, but one thing about our position at outside linebacker, we only have five guys on the team at that position on scholarship,” Pruitt said last week. “And everywhere else I’ve ever been, we’ve carried eight or nine, what we call DPR, ‘designated pass rushers.’ We only have five. We need to stay healthy at that position. We have guys like Darrell Taylor, Deandre Johnson, Kivon Bennett, that have played and have experience, but it’s a dangerously low number, and it’s one of the big selling points for us in recruiting.

    “If you want to be able to rush the quarterback, there’s an opportunity at Tennessee, just by sheer numbers. So, after this year, we’ll only have four guys back.”

    It seems as though at least one of Tennessee’s targets at a DPR position took Pruitt’s words to heart, and he has the Vols as one of his top teams in his recruitment.

    Latarie Kinsler is a high three-star weak-side defensive end who plays for Pahokee High School in Pahokee, Florida. He tweeted out his top six schools moving forward in his recruitment, and Tennessee made the cut. The Vols are joined by Penn State, Oregon, South Carolina, Syracuse, and Virginia.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Kinsler is right outside of four-star range. He’s the No. 375 overall prospect, No. 14 weak-side defensive end, and No. 60 player in the state of Florida. The first four-star in 247Sports’ composite ratings is the No. 348 overall prospect.

    Tennessee extended an offer to Kinsler back on March 5th, right in the middle of him receiving a ton of interest from Power Five programs. From the middle of January through the beginning of May, Kinsler picked up 14 scholarship offers, including from schools like Texas A&M, LSU, Penn State, Miami, and Washington.

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    At one point, Kinsler was committed to Louisville. He committed to the Cardinals on July 11th back in 2017 before the start of his sophomore year of high school. But on October 8th of last year, he decommitted from Louisville.

    Now, the Cardinals aren’t in the picture in his recruitment.

    The 6-foot-2, 204-pound defensive end has already taken an official visit to Syracuse, and the Orange appear to be the slight favorites in his recruitment right now. He’s yet to visit Tennessee.

    Kinsler, though obviously undersized right now, has tremendous speed off the edge. He gets to the backfield quickly and has a superb speed rush. He’s very difficult to block off the edge for most high school offensive tackles, and he’s dangerous whether he’s coming off the edge at outside linebacker or with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end. Kinsler is disruptive and shows off some good vision as well.

    As a freshman in 2016, Kinsler burst onto the scene with 23 sacks while coming off the bench. As a sophomore in 2017, he totaled 60 tackles, 12 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His stats from his junior season aren’t available at the moment.

    Right now, Tennessee currently doesn’t have an outside linebacker or defensive end committed to them in their 2020 class. In-state athlete Darion Williamson could eventually move to outside linebacker in the future, though.

    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.