- Craig Haubert, ESPN Staff Writer
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Butch Jones' first full class got stronger this weekend with the addition of defensive end Dewayne Hendrix (O'Fallon, Ill./O'Fallon). Continue reading to see what our scouts believe Hendrix will bring to the Vols defensive front:
What he brings: The ESPN 300 defender possesses nice size (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) with a frame that the Vols can continue to develop and fill out. Initial quicks are adequate, though once in motion, Hendrix displays good athleticism and speed for his size, which can allow him to be an active defender and a factor in pursuit. With his size and playing strength, he can set the edge, demonstrating the ability to play with pad level and be active with his hands to separate and shed blockers. Needs to improve snap awareness to maximize his abilities as a pass rusher. He's a big, athletic presence capable of getting into blockers and pressing the pocket, as well as being able to counter. Needs to continue to develop, but capable of creating pressure.
How he fits: As Butch Jones and staff work to build Tennessee, they need to address the defensive line. Thus far they have a verbal from Joe Henderson (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights), a lean pass rusher who fits more into that “Leo” role. They also have a commitment from ESPN 300 DL Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn./Academy), who can give them some versatility up front. In Hendrix, they land a player who can fit well at the defensive end position which is an area of need with a pair of seniors there. For a defense near the bottom of the SEC in a couple of categories, including rushing defense and tackles for loss, the four-star prospect gives them a big, athletic body that can help them improve in those areas. A defensive end, he could also potentially develop into a defensive tackle while in Knoxville, Tenn., and that wouldn’t be the worst thing as it could be a little better long-term fit for him.
Prediction for performance: Hendrix has room for improvement, but with a defense in need of continued improvement itself and a defensive line that features close to a half-dozen seniors, the ESPN 300 defensive end could be tapped to contribute quickly. With his size, natural tools and some headiness, he could be expected to be able to contribute as a freshman.
How the class is shaping up: Butch Jones' first full class is developing into a strong one. Already within the top five, the class is headlined by key, in-state pick-ups such as running back Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech) and safety Todd Kelly Jr. (Knoxville, Tenn./Webb). The addition of out-of-state defender Hendrix gives them their 12th ESPN 300 commitment and helps them to continue to address the defensive line. He is now their fourth and highest-rated DL pledge.