One of the junior college transfers Jeremy Pruitt turned to for immediate help, Darel Middleton initially made a splash by getting up to 311 pounds in the summer, complementing his 6’7″ frame perfectly. But he then showed his value to Tennessee football early on, standing out and showing ability the first week of camp.
Pruitt and Tracy Rocker both touted his talents that week, which you can read about here. An East Tennessee native who transferred from Last Chance U, Middleton is now in great position to play due to the season-ending injury to Emmit Gooden and the limbo status of Michigan Wolverines transfer Aubrey Solomon.
There was already a big need with the losses of Alexis Johnson, Kyle Phillips and Shy Tuttle, and that only made it bigger. Now, Middleton factored into the defensive line rotation on the depth chart, even if he’s not going to actually start this year.
Sure, there are some other names, like Savion Williams, who are bigger standouts. But Williams came in with expectations to play immediately. That Middleton has now worked his way into the rotation makes him a huge winner from fall camp. Regardless of the things that had to happen, he was a three-star transfer. So having the chance to make a splash this year is huge.