Tennessee reeled in the 26th commit of its standout 2014 recruiting class Wednesday when 4-star defensive end Derek Barnett delivered a verbal pledge to the Volunteers. He called head coach Butch Jones to notify the team of his decision, according to Chip Cirillo of The Tennessean.
Barnett, a 6'4", 275-pound standout at Brentwood Academy, chose the Volunteers over a list of offers that includes LSU, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Tennessee extended an offer to the middle Tennessee product in January.
He visited Knoxville in April for the squad's spring game and also attended Tennessee's Sept. 28 matchup against South Alabama, according to 247Sports. Barnett visited Vanderbilt last weekend to see the Commodores host Missouri.
The newest Volunteer commit envisioned himself in orange and white for awhile, as he explained to Cirillo.
“The first game I attended I knew I was going to be a Vol,” Barnett told Cirillo. “That was the LSU game my freshman year in high school. I wasn’t a prospect at the time, but I knew that’s where I was going to be.”
He joins a 2014 Tennessee class that currently ranks No. 4 nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings. Barnett bolsters an already impressive group of incoming freshmen.
He is listed as the country's eighth-best, strong-side defensive end prospect and Tennessee's fourth-best recruit in 247Sports' rankings. Barnett compiled 52 tackles—including 14 for loss—and six sacks as a junior, per 247Sports.
The senior has tallied 27 tackles and six sacks so far this season, according to the Tennessean. He is an explosive defender who could line up along the exterior or the interior of Tennessee's front line, depending on scheme.
Barnett's agility is on display when he lines up at tight end on offense, and he has enough raw power and technique to potentially challenge for a role in the rotation as a freshman. 247Sports ranks him the sixth-best prospect in Tennessee's current recruiting class.