A question for Jeremy Pruitt: Where is JJ Peterson?
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt will be in Atlanta on Wednesday for his debut appearance at SEC Media Days. The Times Free Press is reviewing key topics that Pruitt will likely be asked to address when the Volunteers take their turn in front of the reporters.
Where is J.J. Peterson?
With three weeks to go until first-year Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt kicks off preseason practice with a news conference on campus, the crown jewel of his 2018 signing class has yet to enroll.
Pruitt should expect to be drilled Wednesday on when Peterson will arrive on campus and if there’s any chance that academic or other issues will hinder the prized linebacker’s chances of playing this season.
National signing day took the Volunteers through emotional highs and lows, but one of the unquestioned highs was when Peterson put on a Tennessee cap during his signing ceremony at Colquitt County High School in southern Georgia. But his status came into question when he did not report to summer school with the other players who signed in February.
In interviews with other media outlets, Colquitt County coach Rush Propst has expressed confidence that Peterson will be eligible to play this season. But even if he arrives in time for the beginning of preseason practice, his delayed enrollment will put him at a disadvantage compared to Tennessee’s other freshmen, who have spent the summer working out under the direction of the strength and conditioning staff and beginning college coursework.
A 247Sports fourstar prospect and the nation’s 48th overall player in the 2018 class, Peterson chose the Vols over Alabama and likely is talented enough to compete for an immediate role on defense, or at least special teams, this season.
Quart’e Sapp, Daniel Bituli and Darrin Kirkland Jr. are returning interior linebackers with veteran savvy, though Kirkland’s career has been marred by injuries. Sophomores Solon Page, Shanon Reid and Will Ignont also will compete for playing time in the middle of the linebacker corps during preseason practice.
Still, Peterson is a critical piece for the future of Tennessee’s defense. Pruitt and Propst have a longstanding relationship, dating back to when Pruitt worked for Propst at Hoover High School in Alabama. So it’s likely that the Vols’ staff was well-versed during the recruiting process on any potential academic issues facing Peterson.
But now the countdown is on to preseason practice with questions still surrounding the status of Pruitt’s most-celebrated 2018 recruit.
Contact David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.