Tennessee football: Camron Douglas headlines another group of walk-on steals for 2022

Haywood's Camron Douglas (65) getting off the field during a game against North Side on Friday, Oct 1, 2021 in Brownsville, Tenn. Haywood defeated North Side, 56-18.Jtn Northsideathaywood
Haywood's Camron Douglas (65) getting off the field during a game against North Side on Friday, Oct 1, 2021 in Brownsville, Tenn. Haywood defeated North Side, 56-18.Jtn Northsideathaywood /

It started when Tennessee football added athlete Derek Taylor, who led four preferred walk-ons to commit to the Vols on Monday. A 6’4″ athlete who could play cornerback or wide receiver, Taylor earned a three-star rating on 247Sports. We wrote about those commitments here.

Then, on National Signing Day, the Vols picked up the biggest prize of preferred walk-ons, former Michigan State Spartans defensive back commitment Shannon Blair. A three-star across all services, Blair could have accepted scholarship offers everywhere but chose UT. We wrote about the commitment of Blair and multiple specialists Wednesday morning here.

Later on the afternoon, though, Tennessee football added another haul of preferred walk-ons. Leading that group was defensive lineman Camron Douglas. Although not rated on ESPN or On3, Douglas is a three-star on Rivals and 247 Sports. Douglas’ high school, Haywood High in Brownsville, Tenn., revealed his signing on Twitter.

Standing at 6’2″ and weighing in the range of 305 to 310 pounds, Douglas is purely going to be an inside guy. However, even in Tim Banks’ system, such nose tackles can be valuable. Josh Heupel was smart to add him. Here’s a look at his highlight reel.

As you can see, Douglas is impossible to block in high school. He is also quick enough to get off other blocks, which is why he can line up at end sometimes, and while his level of competition can be called into question, that versatility will serve him well at the next level.

Also, defensive line is clearly a depth issue for the Vols with Matthew Butler, Ja’Quain Blakely and Caleb Tremblay gone from this class and LaTrell Bumphus and Aubrey Solomon possible gone but certain to be gone by next year. As a preferred walk-on, Douglas helps offset that.

Mekhi “Biggs” Bigelow also helps offset that, and he committed to Tennessee football as an out-of-state defensive end on Wednesday as well. Coming out of Charlotte, N.C., Bigelow was another player to announce his commitment on Twitter.

Now, Bigelow has no ratings or listings on any service, but he’s a teammate of UT edge rusher commitment James Pearce out of Chambers High School. Here is a look at the North Carolina prospect’s highlight reel, which is all we can go on.

Based on these highlights, Bigelow is clearly fast and has a solid understanding of leverage and getting through gaps. Coming out of Mecklenburg County, he should also be solidly tested with a healthy level of competition. Although he lines up more on the end, he could at least add to outside linebacker depth if he’s too small for the line in the SEC.

Speaking of linebackers, the Vols have been trying to load up on depth there as well, and they found another Memphis kid as a preferred walk-on in Ben Bolton. The product of Lausanne Collegiate School has no recruiting ratings anywhere and is only named on 247Sports, where he is listed at 6’2″ 209 pounds. He also announced his commitment on Twitter.

Bolton has experience playing linebacker and wide receiver in high school, and he could certainly help Heupel and co. going forward. That versatility suggests he is a solid coverage linebacker, which the Vols need. Here is a look at his highlight reel.

Clearly, Bolton has a solid combination of speed and strength. Whether or not it translates to the next level remains to be seen, but Lausanne is where Eric Gray came from, so it’s not like that level of competition is too questionable.

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All of these preferred walk-ons could make an impact for Tennessee football. Douglas, Taylor and Blair are the biggest steals of the past three days, but adding bodies like this is the perfect way to offset not having the National Signing Day you wanted. As a result, watch out for every player that’s been named as a walk-on. Some of them will likely see the field in a couple years.