Jeremy Pruitt not putting 'unrealistic expectations' on JJ Peterson, Vols prized recruit

Mike Wilson
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Prized Vols recruit JJ Peterson is ready to start his college career.

Tennessee linebacker JJ Peterson (40) during football practice on Monday, September 3, 2018.

It’s just happening later than anticipated. The Vols' top recruit in the 2018 class arrived in Knoxville on Sunday, almost seven months after he signed with Tennessee.

"I wouldn’t put unrealistic expectations on him," UT coach Jeremy Pruitt said Monday. "We will put him out there and start trying to teach him the fundamentals of things we are trying to get done and we will see where it goes from there.”

The 6-foot-2, 231-pound linebacker was cleared Friday by the NCAA to join the Vols after a long process of completing necessary coursework.

Three days later, Peterson is No. 40 on the UT roster as the Vols (0-1) ready for their home opener against East Tennessee State (1-0) on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

He will practice for the first time Monday, starting the required acclimatization period. That acclimatization requirement means Peterson won't be able to practice in full pads until his fifth practice. He can only wear a helmet in practice for his first two days at Tennessee, then wear a helmet and shoulder pads the following two days.

The linebacker from Colquitt County (Ga.) High School picked UT over a lengthy list of scholarship offers on signing day in February. He headlined Pruitt’s first recruiting class with the Vols as the nation’s No. 48 recruit in the 247Sports Composite. And now that Peterson is on campus, the entire recruiting class is at UT.

The four-star prospect had to complete academic requirements in the summer before enrolling at Tennessee. Pruitt hoped that would happen in time for Peterson to participate in preseason practices. But camp came and went without Peterson’s arrival.

Last Wednesday, Pruitt indicated that Peterson – the nation’s No. 3 outside linebacker recruit – was in a “holding pattern” in his journey to join the Vols.

Days later, the highly touted prospect was cleared after completing a final class. He missed the start of fall semester classes at UT, summer workouts, preseason camp and Tennessee’s season-opening 40-14 loss to No. 20 West Virginia in Charlotte, N.C.

But now begins the methodical process for Peterson rolling into college football. His transition to the academic world, which starts with classes Tuesday, will be more abrupt.

“It’s going to be the first time he has attended a college class,” Pruitt said. “I think it’s important for freshmen to get here during the summer so they get acclimated to the routine.

“There will be lots of adjustments for him.”







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