Tennessee football’s emphasis on linebackers who can play all four positions under Jeremy Pruitt makes a major exception for Darrell Taylor. A former defensive end, Taylor has a chance to be an explosive edge rusher for the Vols his senior season.
In Pruitt’s system, inside linebackers for the Vols aren’t likely to rack up as many stats. That’s why Daniel Bituli, despite probably being the best player on the Vols, is not on this list as a linebacker who could achieve postseason recognition. Outside linebackers, however, can become sack machines. Taylor is already on his way to doing that.
Last year, as he was developing in the transition from end in a 4-3 to outside linebacker in a 3-4, he was a bit inconsistent and took some time to get going. However, he still led all SEC players who are back this year in sacks with eight, and he tied for third among them in tackles for a loss with 11. Those numbers were accrued in only three games.
If Taylor, now more settled in, puts up more consistent numbers this year, you may be looking at a record-setting season on Rocky Top. And that’s why he’s so high on this list. His potential to be a stat machine and get national recognition everywhere is beyond anybody’s. He should have joined Marquez Callaway as a preseason All-SEC player.