Tennessee football signed seven offseason additions for the upcoming season. We’ve already touched on the top 25 most important returning players from last year’s team, now let’s touch on who among these new additions could make an immediate impact for the Big Orange come fall.
Coming in at No. 13 is freshman edge Joshua Josephs.
Joshua Josephs is one of two top 30 edge rushers Tennessee signed for the Class of 2022. The North Cobb High School alum’s rankings out of high school are all over the place – On 3 ranked him the highest as the No. 8 edge rusher in the class, 247 Sports rated him a little lower at 15 as a four-star and rivals rates him as a three-star prospect.
Anyone that knows college football knows those numbers don’t really matter. Josephs has the talent to produce at the SEC level.
Josephs comes in at 6-foot-3, 215-pounds and an 82-inch wingspan. He is an elite tackler, leading North Cobb to consecutive regional championships. His senior season was his best – the soon-to-be freshman tallied 104 tackles and six sacks on a defense that allowed under 20 points per game.
Josephs was rated as the No. 31 player out of the state of Georgia per 247 Sports.
Having too much talent at any position is a good problem to have, even more so at edge rusher/linebacker.
Freshman edge Joshua Josephs will likely not see the field with his hands in a three-point stance very often in 2022-23.
This is for a few reasons. For one, Tyler Baron and Byron Young will be on a collision course for the ambiguous title of the best edge pair in the SEC. Both are slated to take a big jump in 2022 on the defensive line. For another, Josephs is likely behind fellow freshman James Pearce on the depth chart at edge.
But the nature of Tennessee’s system is a rewarding one for freshman looking for snaps. If Tennessee’s offense cannot improve its third down percentage from last year’s numbers, a defense that saw way too many snaps last year will suffer a similar fate this year. That will necessitate regular changes to keep the attack fresh, and eventually will trickle down to playing freshmen at one of the most important positions on the field.
That’s completely conditional though. If Tennessee is to improve on offense as it is expected, forget everything we just said.
One thing is clear – Joesphs has the talent alongside Pearce to be Tennessee’s next power edge rushing duo. The Vols have made it a habit to bring in high quality pass rushers over the past few years. Obviously Baron, Young, Josephs and Pearce fit this title, but so do Caleb Herring and Chandavian Bradley in the 2023 class and Jonathan Echols in the 2024 cycle.
It helps having a guy like Rodney Garner sometimes, huh?