Wednesday, October 22, 2014 · 2:25 a.m.
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Linebacker A.J. Johnson is now on multiple preseason watch lists. (Photo: David Johnston).

KNOXVILLE – In the world of college football recruiting, where schools can’t officially comment on the status of recruits until signed, there can be multiple contradicting stories on the status of a recruit at a given time.

That’s been the case recently with Oxon Hill, Md., linebacker Jerome Dews, who reportedly committed to UT on Monday, but hasn’t been listed by recruiting services as a UT pledge until Wednesday.

The major recruiting services – Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and Scout.com ­– have now come to the consensus that he is, indeed, a member of UT’s 2014 class, will sign with the Vols in February and be on scholarship immediately.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound linebacker also lists himself as a UT commitment on his Twitter profile.

Dews was a lightly-regarded prospect before attending UT’s camp in mid-June, where he put on an impressive showing and earned an offer from UT shortly after the camp concluded. After taking a few days to mull it over, Dews accepted UT’s offer. Prior to the UT's camp, he only held one FBS offer from Temple in addition to several FCS offers.

“For them to be an SEC school and take that chance on me with me having no other big offers shows they’re nothing but real people,” Dews told the Washington Post. “They don’t care about publicity and all that stuff, the politics. They like me, and they don’t care about none of that other stuff.”

Dews, who also plays receiver in high school but is projected to play outside linebacker in college, is UT’s 17th commitment in the class of 2014 and the third linebacker to pledge to the Vols, joining Gavin Bryant and Chris Weatherd.

How he fits: Linebacker is one of the top priorities in the 2014 class and the Vols could take as many as four or five at that spot. That’s because UT can only return a maximum of four scholarship linebackers after 2013 – A.J. Johnson, Curt Maggitt, Christian Harris and Kenny Bynum.

Any attrition, including the possible early entry into the NFL draft by Johnson and/or Maggitt, will leave the position extremely thin. Though Dews’ commitment is somewhat surprising, it’s easy to see why the Vols would be quick to offer a scholarship to any linebacker they think can help. His strength appears to be in his overall athleticism and range, and with the need to defend opposing spread offenses, having a linebacker who can cover a lot of ground and defend the pass is becoming more important.

Rankings: 

ESPN.com: NR

Rivals.com: NR

Scout.com: NR

247Sports.com: 2-star; 35th best player in Maryland

247Sports.com Composite: 2-star; 43rd best player in Maryland

Tennessee’s 2014 commitments (247Sports Composite ranking)

ATH Vic Wharton (3-star)

OL Coleman Thomas (3-star)

DB Todd Kelly (4-star)

WR/ATH Neiko Creamer (3-star)

RB Jalen Hurd (5-star)

RB Treyvon Paulk (3-star)

CB D'Andre Payne (4-star)

TE Ethan Wolf (4-star)

TE Daniel Helm (4-star)

(JUCO) WR Kameel Jackson (3-star)

OL Orlando Brown (3-star)

K Aaron Medley (3-star)

DE Joe Henderson (3-star)

(JUCO) LB Chris Weatherd (4-star)

ATH/WR Brandon Powell (3-star)

LB Gavin Bryant (3-star)

LB Jerome Dews (2-star)

Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga

 

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