Damien Jacobs

The Tennessee Vols got a big commitment at a major position of need on Thursday when 6-foot-4, 300-pound East Mississippi Community College defensive tackle Damien Jacobs pledged to coach Derek Dooley and staff.

Jacobs — who was a three-star Florida State commitment last year before failing to qualify — visited Knoxville this past weekend with his teammate, four-star defensive end Denico Autry. Autry is thought to be favoring Alabama and Mississippi State, but his visit to Knoxville gave the Vols a shot to secure his commitment. Getting Jacobs — his roommate and good friend — won’t hurt, either.

The former Houma, La., standout played last season as the backup for Alabama commitment Quinton Dial. As everybody around these parts know, Dial is a monster, but Jacobs didn’t do too bad himself coming off the bench, amassing 48 tackles. Though UT was his first offer this time around this season, he had drawn interest from Alabama, Miami, Texas A&M and Mississippi State. He has told different services he may still visit A&M and Mississippi State, but he is a Vol.

Jacobs makes it two JUCO defensive tackle commitments in two years for the Vols, who really need the help. Malik Jackson is a senior, and with Montori Hughes getting booted off the team, UT finds itself painfully thin in the trenches again next season. Currently, last year’s No. 2-ranked JUCO DT Maurice Couch, converted OL Daniel Hood, converted star defensive end Corey Miller, former walk-on Joseph Ayres, project Greg Clark and incoming freshmen Trevarris Saulsberry and Alan Carson round out the depth at the position. DE Marlon Walls has played the position in the past as well. The Vols need immediate help at DT and are also courting massive JUCO DT 6-7, 380-pound Daniel McCullers along with multiple high school DTs like Dan O’Brien, Sheldon Day, Koren Kirven, Ryan Watson and Gerron Borne.

Jacobs was originally recruited by Dooley and recruiting coordinator Terry Joseph when they were at Louisiana Tech. He also was recruited to Texas Tech by Eric Russell, who is now the Vols’ special teams coordinator. Jacobs’ prior relationship with UT coaches helped the Vols get their foot in the door, and they sealed the commitment with a great visit last weekend. The Vols loved Jacobs’ film and relayed to him that he would be firmly in the rotation the moment he stepped onto campus because of numbers. Jacobs jumped at the opportunity.

The Vols expect to be able to sign around 23 players in this class.