Herman Lathers Injured: Top 5 Players Who Could Replace Him

J FitzContributor IIIJune 6, 2011

Herman Lathers Injured: Top 5 Players Who Could Replace Him

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    Many Tennessee fans are frantic about the recent news of junior linebacker Herman Lathers fracturing his ankle in seven-on-seven drills.

    Lathers, who will miss at least the start of the season due to his impending surgery, was a beast his sophomore season, as he laid many hard hits on the opposition.

    Most claim that the linebacking core is UT's thinnest position, and this could be a major blow to the team.

    I, however, think there are many players who see this as a chance to step up their game and show the fans what they’re made of.

    Here are the top five who are likely to impress this fall.

5. Curt Maggitt, 6'3'', 215 lbs, Freshman

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    Maggitt is a player who has great size and tons of potential. He was physically dominating in his high school days and looks to apply the same domination to his college years.

    The West Palm Beach native was a late pickup for Derek Dooley when he changed over from Florida to Tennessee on National Signing Day.

    He will be a valued asset to Tennessee’s depth, but his inexperience and youth lands him at No. 5.

4. Raiques Crump, 6'1'', 220 lbs, Sophomore

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    Crump is coming off of a freshman campaign in which he got some valuable playing time late in games. He has pretty good size for a 19-year-old but will need to bulk up a bit to hold his own in with the SEC elite.

    The Alabama native had a nose for the ball in high school, as he forced five fumbles and blocked two punts his senior year. He also finished his senior year with 108 tackles while leading his team to the second round of the 2009 Class 6A Alabama playoffs.

    If Crump can maintain his balancing act of great size and good speed, look for him to be a force in 2011 and beyond.

3. Daryl Vereen, 5'11'', 215 lbs, Senior

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    This former running back has been trying to convert to the linebacking position for three years now.

    I think he’s finally ready for the big stage.

    If you have seen anything defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox has said about him this year, it has been great. He has praised Vereen's work ethic and knowledge of the defense all spring, and I believe Vereen wants to prove to everyone in the SEC that he can be a force on defense.

2. A.J. Johnson, 6'3'', 245 lbs, Freshman

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    I may catch some heat from this, but I have this highly touted recruit No. 2 for a reason.

    Don’t get me wrong, Johnson is one of the most physically impressive recruits UT has gotten in a while. The former Gainsville High School standout was the No. 12 player in the state of Georgia and No. 8 at his position nationally. He has the strength and the build to be a great SEC linebacker.

    But it will not be this year.

    I think Johnson will have to take some time to get familiar with Wilcox’s system before he can be great.

    Once he has the system down, he will be ready to take the SEC by storm, but this won’t be his breakout season.

1. John Propst, 6'0'', 225 lbs, Sophomore

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    This pick may surprise some, but I am confident in putting the Hoover native at No. 1.

    Propst, who made the 2010 freshman All-SEC team, got playing time in 11 games last year, accumulating 14 tackles and one tackle for loss. He also had an impressive six tackles against Georgia.

    His senior year in high school, he lead powerhouse Hoover High School to the 6A Alabama state championship. The sophomore has shown he can be a hard-hitting force while also keeping up with the speedy backs of the SEC.

    Perhaps his most convincing attribute is his ability to read offenses, which he displayed almost every time he was given the chance in 2010.

    I believe Propst will take over the starting MLB job and never look back. Perhaps even surpassing the man he will be filling in for.