Freshman Maggitt impresses Derek Dooley

Derek Dooley considers his second season at Tennessee “year 1.” That would make his first season “year zero.”

Weird math, but Dooley is looking for this program to rebound, and it feels like his first full season as the Volunteers’ coach.

Well, in his “first” year with the Vols, he’ll field a lot of young players, especially on defense, which is far from ideal.

One of those players is expected to have an immediate impact for Tennessee.

Freshman linebacker Curt Maggitt has been turning heads in practice sine his arrival and he’s set to start at outside linebacker for Tennessee during the Vols’ opener against Montana on Saturday.

Mostly a defensive end in high school, Maggitt was always a player Dooley coveted greatly last year after he passed a three-part test Dooley and his staff use in evaluating recruits.

First, Maggitt passed the measurement test, standing 6-foot-3, and 215 pounds. Plus, he had tremendous speed. Second, he showed “great athleticism and twitch” on film and in live games. And finally, Maggitt had the right makeup with his character, passion and toughness.

“Curt is off the charts on that,” Dooley said. “Everything indicated that he was going to be a good player for us and he’s really shown a real high level of maturity, a high level of professionalism and a high level of understanding of what we’re doing. We’re glad we have him.”

With such a young defense, Maggitt’s fast development must be very reassuring for the Vols’ defensive staff.