Coming out of high school, Darren Myles was your typical blue chip recruit.
A SuperPrep All-American and four-star player from Georgia, Myles was supposed to replace safety Eric Berry for the Tennessee Volunteers. He showed promise his freshman year, playing in dime packages and, after the injury of fellow freshman phenom Janzen Jackson, earned a starting job.
In the Orange/White game this spring, Myles' play culminated with a brilliant interception and pass break up, cementing his spot as starting strong safety.
However, this sophomore standout was soon dismissed from the team by coach Derek Dooley following a brawl at a Knoxville bar—an incident which also resulted in the indefinite suspension of linebacker Greg King and possible starting defensive tackle, Marlon Walls.
While the loss of King and Walls will most likely create issues for the Vols on the field—especially in regards to the depth King would add to the linebacker core—two big question remain for the Volunteers:
- Will Da'Rick Rogers, John Brown, Denarius Moore, and Matt Milton, who were also at the bar, be charged?
- Who will replace Myles at strong safety?
To answer the first, as of today, these players haven't been suspended or kicked off the team.
The status Da'Rick Rogers (who received a criminal charge) is still up in the air.
I don't think Rogers will receive any discipline from Dooley because it's his first offense, and he's not technically a member of the team. Da'Rick didn't participate in spring drills and may not even have a dorm room yet. We'll know by the start of summer camp next week.
As for the void left by the dismissed Darren Myles, fellow sophomore Prentiss Waggner is the first in line to receive the start. Like Myles, Waggner played every game as a freshman and had a good spring (three tackles and one PBU).
At 6'2" and 175 lbs, Waggner is slimmer than Myles, who weighed in at 190 lbs. Despite his slender physique, Waggner has a good bench press (270 lbs) and should be able to switch from corner to safety for the Vols if needed.
Rodriquez Smith has a shot to replace Myles as well. With a monstrous build at 220 lbs, Smith is experienced at strong safety, having played at Smyrna High in Tennessee.
With two tackles and two pass deflections, Smith played well this spring. If awarded the starting job, he should bring a more hard-hitting philosophy to his safety spot—a style of play that, when paired alongside Janzen Jackson, will allow for plenty of bone-jarring in the defensive backfield for the Vols.
Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox could also convert a cornerback to play safety.
It's close to summer camp, but some potential options include redshirt junior Anthony Anderson, who backed up Eric Berry in the past, and four-star junior college transfer Dave Clark.
Clark played corner and safety at Independence CC, and with a 4.4 forty time has the speed to cover slot receivers and make tackles from box-to-box.
I admire Dooley for bringing much needed discipline and honor to the Tennessee Volunteers' football program. Hopefully, the players will buy in.