Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions here . In this edition, we discuss Tennessee and the recruitment of junior college linebacker Lakia Henry.
Help at middle linebacker
Coach Jeremy Pruitt is aiming to reshape the Vols defense with his vision in a hurry. Tennessee signed four junior college prospects in the Class of 2018. Pruitt has his eyes set on a few top targets for the 2019 cycle, as well.
Linebacker Lakia Henry has been talking with the Vols staff, primarily defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer, and he picked up a Tennessee offer last Wednesday.
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound JUCO prospect could provide some immediate depth in the middle of the Tennessee defense in 2019. Pruitt plans to switch to a 3-4 defense predicated on strong linebacker play.
Pruitt needs inside linebackers who can control the middle of the field. Henry fits that mold.
“I’m really aggressive at the point of attack,” Henry told SEC Country. “I can really take on blockers that are bigger than me. I’m a good sideline-to-sideline runner. I used to play running back and that has helped me a lot.”
Henry rates as a 4-star prospect and the No. 2 junior college prospect in the Class of 2019, according to 247Sports rankings. He finished the 2017 season with 110 tackles, 13 for a loss and 2 1/2 sacks for Dodge City (Kan.) Community College.
Watching Henry’s game video backs up his assertion. Henry doesn’t lose too many battles on the football field. Remember the National Championship game between Alabama and Georgia. The linebackers seemed like they were everywhere on the field and controlled the game. This is Pruitt’s vision for the defense.
It’s not tough to imagine Henry lined up next to Darrin Kirkland Jr. and JJ Peterson as the foundation for a top 3 SEC linebacker group.
Henry has strong interest from Texas and Texas A&M right now with other notable offers from Alabama, Nebraska and Ole Miss. He said the Vols, Longhorns and Aggies are pursuing him the hardest.
Each program will be selling playing time to Henry. With only two seasons left of eligibility once he makes it to campus, making an immediate impact on the field will be an important factor in his decision.
“Playing time is big,” Henry said. “I want to come right away and play. Not saying that I deserve anything. I know I’m going to have to work for it. I want to have a fair shot to compete for a spot.”
Henry also values the facilities of programs and his relationship with the coaching staff. The Vidalia, Ga., native has been impressed with what the new coaching staff has brought to Tennessee. He wants to know them more and see the campus when he takes a visit sometime in the middle of March.
“The staff is good for the program,” Henry said. “Tennessee has always had a good football team. I feel like a staff like this can really bring them back to the way the program used to be. I’m excited about the coaching staff.
“Honestly, I want to check out the facilities and see what Tennessee has to offer.”
Henry is going to visit Texas this weekend.
The only offer he had out of high school was to Dodge City. The recruiting process has been a bit of a whirlwind for him, going from no offers from 4-year colleges to some of the top programs in the country inviting him to campus.
Henry plans to commit by the time this season begins. Tennessee won’t have many more shots to seal the deal after his visit. The coaching staff will need to make a lasting impact.
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