The Jeremy Pruitt Era is beginning to take shape day by day. On Wednesday, the Vols got a commitment from LeDarrius Cox, who is a 6-foot-4-inch and 310-pound defensive tackle out of Mobile, Ala. However, the 3-star is not the typical defensive tackle that Vol fans have seen since the now Alabama intern Butch Jones was in Knoxville. Instead of following the footsteps of tackles like Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle, Cox is a bigger body that fits Pruitt’s 3-4 defense ideally.
In the past, Tennessee’s four lineman defense always featured two defensive tackles, but Pruitt’s defense only calls for a single defensive tackle in the base schemes. Because of the presence of only one defensive tackle, there is a need for a bigger body that takes up more space to defend the run game, which Cox fits perfectly. Cox has shown in his film that the high school level is simply too easy and weak for him. He consistently shows the abilities to blow centers off of the ball at the snap, but little film shows him effectively defending the run game.
Once Cox arrives in Knoxville, it seems that the coaching staff will have two options: to slim him down and move him to defensive end or to keep him bigger and continue playing him inside. To move him to defense end would support his strengths of rushing the passer, but his larger frame would keep him from getting to outside runs. However, if he continues to play inside, the coaching staff will have to make sure that he becomes more efficient at defending the run.
Cox will have the opportunity to play either position, but it is more likely that he will continue to play inside because of his strength and frame. Otherwise, the coaching staff has a great recruit on their hands that could likely make an impact in his second or third year as a Vol. He will most likely begin with a redshirt season, but he will gradually grow from a redshirt to a rotational role, and then most likely could be in the starting lineup.
On the other hand, Pruitt has continued to bring in 3-star recruits while Georgia consistently brings in 5-stars, but Vol fans should not worry. The recruits, like Cox, that Pruitt has brought in have a high upside and it shows how confident the coaching staff is in their abilities. No matter what ratings the 2019 recruiting class has, Vol fans should have full trust in players like Cox making a large impact in two to three years.
— LeDarrius Cox (@darrius_55) April 4, 2018
You can check out Cox’s highlight film here: