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Tennessee Football: Four-star 2025 in-state DL commit Ethan Utley a crucial pickup for Vols

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Josh Heupel is taking advantage of the in-state talent for Tennessee Football in 2025. On Thursday, he did that while addressing a huge need at the same time and helping to push the Vols’ recruiting class ranking into the top 10.

Ethan Utley, a four-star defensive lineman out of Nashville, became the seventh commitment in UT’s next upcoming class. He committed to Rocky Top over the Michigan Wolverines, Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Longhorns and Syracuse Orange.

Standing between 6’3″ and 6’4″ and weighing around 265 pounds, the Davidson County, Tenn., prospect hails from Ensworth High School. He announced his decision to commit to Tennessee Football with a video on X, formerly known as Twitter.

This year’s defensive line for the Vols has two key players who will likely be gone next year. Omari Thomas, the anchor of the defensive tackles, will be out of eligibility. The same is true of Omarr Norman-Lott and Elijah Simmons.

Meanwhile, James Pearce Jr., a generational talent on the edge, will be able to turn pro. As a result, a guy like Utley, who at the moment could fill either void depending on what Rodney Garner and Tim Banks decide, is a major addition.

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Utley could play somewhat of a hybrid defensive tackle role, which is what Dominic Bailey has been expected to do in the past. Bailey will likely still be on the roster in 2025 so Utley could learn behind him for a year before stepping into the role. Here is a look at his highlight reel.


As you can see, Utley is better off the edge, but he’s able to shift to the inside. How his speed and quickness translates to the college level remains to be seen. There could be a bit of a concern that he’s a tweener, but those players actually work well in Garner’s system.

Despite this pickup, Tennessee Football has a lot of work to do up front still. Utley is just one player, and there are lots of guys who will be leaving after 2024. As a result, Heupel, Banks and Garner need to continue their focus on the trenches for 2025.

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