If someone would’ve asked me ahead of last weekend who the SEC defensive lineman of the week would be, I almost certainly wouldn’t have guessed Tennessee Vols edge rusher Deandre Johnson.
And that’s nothing against Johnson. He just wouldn’t have been on my shortlist.
But that’s what makes sports so great.
Johnson earned SEC defensive lineman of the week honors after totaling 2.5 sacks, six tackles, and a forced fumble in the Vols’ win against South Carolina on Saturday.
The Florida native, who is a senior, has never accumulated more than 2.5 sacks in a season, so I’m sure not many folks thought he would match his season-high in the season-opener against South Carolina.
That kind of defensive breakout, however, is what UT fans are hoping to see happen with Jeremy Pruitt at the helm.
Pruitt is considered a defensive mastermind who is known for his ability to develop talent.
With Darrell Taylor off to the NFL, there were some question marks about who would step up as a capable pass-rusher for the Volunteers.
It certainly appears that Johnson, a former three-star recruit, is ready to step into the role vacated by Taylor.
This is the kind of development that we didn’t really see under previous UT head coach Butch Jones.
Under Jones, players — for the most part — underachieved.
Pruitt, however, is getting the most out of his players. He’s helping players unlock their talent and get better. Sometimes it might not happen right away (as with Johnson), but ultimately we’re seeing more players reach their true potential under Pruitt than we did under Jones.
The good news for Vol fans is that this is just the beginning. We’re only going to see more talent developed under Pruitt from here.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports