Tennessee Signee Elevated to Five-Star Prospect

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    One of the top recruits in the Vols’ 2022 recruiting class just received a big boost. As of Monday morning, Tennessee defensive line commit/signee James Pearce has been elevated to five-star status in On3 Sports’ 2022 recruiting rankings.

    Previously, On3 had Pearce as a four-star recruit, along with Rivals. However, according to a report from Monday, that is no longer the case.

    “After checking [in] at No. 57 in On3’s previous rankings, Pearce has ascended into five-star territory,” Peter Warren wrote for On3 on Monday morning.

    However, even with the news of Pearce’s movement, the full On3 Sports ranking list for 2022 has not been released yet.

    Standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 220-pounds, Pearce is one of the premier edge-rushers in the entire class.

    “Twitched-up EDGE prospect who has an argument as the most gifted pass rusher in the 2022 cycle,” said Charles Power, On3 Director of Scouting and Rankings, about Pearce. “Pairs a long, lean build with top notch first-step quickness. Screams off the edge both as a standing rusher and from a three-point stance. Shows curvilinear movement with his ability to bend around the edge. Has elite closing speed and is a high-level finisher in the backfield. Physical and embraces contact. Has a strong anchor relative to his current size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and converts speed to power as a pass rusher. Highly, highly disruptive in multiple ways. Disrupts passing lanes on a regular basis in addition to forcing fumbles, coming down with interceptions and scoring several defensive touchdowns.

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    One of the most impressive things about Pearce’s game is his ability to move on the football field. Especially for a person with his height and weight, Pearce has continually made mismatches out of matchups just due to his athletic prowess on the football field.

    “Plays with an outstanding effort level on a play-to-play basis,” Powers continued on to say in his scouting summary for On3. “Tracks down plays in backside pursuit. Runs like a wide receiver, which should not be a surprise as he began his career as an offensive skill player. Has put together a phenomenal final two seasons at North Carolina’s top high school program, totaling over 30 sacks as a junior and senior.”

    Pearce announced his commitment to Tennessee and signed his letter of intent on Dec. 15, 2021, during the start of the early signing period. According to On3’s previous rankings, Pearce is the fifth-ranked prospect that has signed to Tennessee’s 2022 class. However, according to 247 Sports’ rankings, Pearce is the third-ranked signee in Tennessee’s class.

    One way or another, it isn’t difficult to see that James Pearce is one of the most prominent prospects that Tennessee football has.

    According to Peter Warren in the article, “On3 will soon release its final rankings for this year’s senior class.”

    In On3 Sports’ team rankings, Tennessee’s 2022 class is currently 16th nationally and 7th in the SEC. Meanwhile, 247 has Tennessee slightly higher, with the 15th-ranked national class and the 6th-ranked class in the SEC.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.