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Tennessee Defensive Lineman Led SEC In Pass Rushing Stat

James Pearce Jr makes the tackle. Photographed by Jackson McCarter/Rocky Top Insider

Tennessee edge rusher Jams Pearce Jr. was one of the SEC’s breakout stars of the 2023 season.

After totaling just two sacks and five total tackles as a freshman, Pearce ranked third in the SEC with 8.5 sacks during his freshman season to go along with 24 total tackles and 13 tackles for loss.

Pearce earned First Team All-SEC honors for his breakout sophomore season and led the SEC in one key pass rushing category. The Charlotte, North Carolina native led the conference with 11 quarterback hits according to PFF.

PFF was as high on Pearce’s play as anyone else this season. The 6-foot-5, 242-pound edge rusher ranked 11th nationally, fifth amongst power five players and first in the SEC amongst edge rushers according to the analytical based site.

Strictly as a pass rusher, Pearce ranked fourth nationally and first in the SEC amongst players that totaled 100-plus pass rush attempts.

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Pearce showed an ability to take over multiple games. The sophomore totaled three-plus quarterback pressures in wins over Virginia, South Carolina, Texas A&M and UConn. Pearce recorded six quarterback hurries and three sacks against South Carolina and four quarterback hits and a sack against Texas A&M.

The best news for Tennessee is that Pearce is back for another season. The former blue-chip recruit will likely be a first round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft but has one more year in the orange-and-white beforehand.

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