Impact Report: 2021 CB Damarius McGhee

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    (Photo via Gregg Pachkowski/PNJ.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: Damarius McGhee, CB
    Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 162 pounds
    School: Pensacola Catholic (Florida)
    Home Town: Pensacola, FL

    Rankings
    247Sports Composite: 
    No. 376 overall, No. 26 CB
    247Sports: No. 89 overall, No. 8 CB
    Rivals: 5.4 rating

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Miami

    What we like:

    First of all, I have to mention Rivals’ laughably low rating of McGhee as it currently stands. He’s a two-star on Rivals right now, but he’s a high four-star on 247Sports. That’s obviously a very old rating on Rivals, and they haven’t updated his evaluation in a while. That’s no fault of anyone at Tennessee’s Rivals site, so don’t go after them for it. But I just felt that needed pointed out to start.

    As for McGhee himself, he has very good speed and is an incredibly versatile athlete. He plays in all three phases of the game for Pensacola Catholic, returning kicks and punts, playing in the secondary on defense, and playing a variety of roles on offense, too. He has an absolute knack for being where the ball is thrown and giving himself the ability to pick it off, and he’s really good at breaking on the ball and reading the quarterback. He has exceptional return skills and is dangerous when the ball gets in his hands. McGhee is also capable of laying out some brutal hits on ball carriers. I like how he moves his hips and uses his athleticism on defense, and that’s the side of the ball he’ll likely play on in college. Don’t count him out of playing on special teams, though.

    Places to improve: 

    The biggest knock right now on McGhee is his size. He has a good frame and very good length for a defensive back, but he’s very, very skinny right now. He barely tips the scales at 160-plus pounds, so adding weight is a must. It’ll be interesting to see how any added weight affects his speed and explosiveness, but he should be able to keep all that athletic ability even while closer to 180-190 pounds.

    Because McGhee plays so many different positions in high school, he’s not had time to really learn the nuances of the cornerback position. That can be a little bit of a blessing, because he may not have some of the bad habits ingrained in him from years and years of doing them like some other high school DBs, but he also likely doesn’t have the technical knowledge as some of the more polished high school DBs, either. But with teachers like Jeremy Pruitt and Derrick Ansley, that shouldn’t be very hard to change.

    Analysis:

    There’s a reason why McGhee shot up recruiting rankings this summer and garnered a ton of attention on the recruiting trail from top-tier programs; he’s a phenomenal athlete with the versatility and athletic ability that Jeremy Pruitt loves in his defensive backs. I can see him contributing in a variety of ways for the Vols even fairly early in his UT career. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him carve out a role as a freshman, especially on special teams. But I think his ceiling is pretty high down the line.

    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.