Impact Report: 2021 OLB Aaron Willis

    by -

    (Photo via FootballHotbed.com)

    Every time Tennessee gets a commitment in either football or men’s basketball, we will write up an impact report looking at what that recruit does well, what we feel can be improved, and what his projected impact with the Vols could be over the next few years.

    Latest Commit: Aaron Willis, OLB
    Height/Weight: 6-foot, 205 pounds
    School: St. Frances Academy (Maryland)
    Home Town: Baltimore, MD

    Rankings
    247Sports Composite: 
    No. 112 overall, No. 9 OLB
    247Sports: No. 123 overall, No. 10 OLB
    Rivals: 5.9 rating, No. 68 overall, No. 4 OLB

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Florida

    What we like:

    Aaron Willis has some really fun highlight film to watch. He absolutely flies around the field and makes play after play. He has great lateral movement and can run sideline-to-sideline very effectively. Not only is Willis an effective blitzer who can lay down some bone-jarring hits, but he’s really good in the flat and has the patience and intelligence to effectively stop passing plays and screens. His instincts are phenomenal, and he just has a great feel for the game coming off the edge or letting plays develop and dissecting them. Given that he’s not the biggest linebacker on the field and isn’t naturally as long as other outside linebackers, I almost wonder if he gets moved back to safety or eventually plays inside linebacker and adds more bulk to his frame. Whatever he does, he has an exceptionally high ceiling and has the athleticism and IQ to make plays anywhere on the field.

    Places to improve: 

    Regardless of where Willis plays in college, he’s going to need to add more weight. He’s not the tallest or longest linebacker, so he’s going to need to add more mass to fill out his frame and withstand the rigors of SEC football. I’d also like to see him work on his block shedding a little more, but he’s very solid in basically every other area. He’s an exceptional coverage linebacker and makes disruptive plays as a blizter, too. I like him a lot in UT’s 3-4 defense.

    Analysis:

    Whether he plays at inside or outside linebacker, safety, or a hybrid STAR type of role for the Vols, I think Willis has some of the best potential of anyone in Tennessee’s 2021 class. He’s a dynamic, athletic, and smart football player. He plays aggressively but doesn’t let that cause him to over-pursue often. Willis can defend the run and pass both, which is invaluable in a linebacker. I foresee him challenging for a role immediately once on campus, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s pushing for a starting job.

    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.