Mustafaa fits at JACK

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Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and his staff hosted one of their grandest unofficial visitor weekends of the recruiting year on March 31 and one of the biggest recruits was four-star defensive end prospect Naim Mustafaa.

Ranked as the No. 19 defensive end in the country by Scout.com, Mustafaa got to take a look at another position where he could excel in college football in coordinator Sal Suneri's new 3-4 defense — the JACK linebacker.

"When I first got there I got to see their practice because I was interested to see how things work," Mustafaa told InsideTennessee. "They told me they wanted me to play that JACK linebacker position and I wanted to see what that was all about, but also I wanted to see the coaches. I wanted to see coach Sal and I loved his coaching style."

Mustafaa has bulked up to 6-foot-4, 235 pounds and he loves to get after the quarterback. The rising senior finished his 2011 season with 50 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks for Alpharetta (Ga.) High School.

Defensive end Naim Mustafaa

"The thing about the JACK is that I get to pass rush a lot, which I love to do," he said. "I also drop back in coverage a little bit. Really I get a lot of freedom in that position. I really like that position a lot."

The 3.0 GPA student was most impressed with a classroom session where he sat down with Sunseri and learned all about his prospective position in the Vol defense.

"Coach Sal sat me down and showed me on the board all the different play calls and schemes for the JACK linebacker," Mustafaa said. "Then he put it on the big screen and showed me different guys on film. He showed me stuff from practice and from games. I learned a lot in 30 minutes."

Naim's father, Najee Mustafa, played football at Georgia Tech before playing in the NFL with Minnesota and Cleveland as a cornerback. With football in his blood he knows that Tennessee strength coach Ron McKeeferey can take him to the next level with his new football training facility.

"The stadium speaks for itself," he said. "The stadium is huge and I have always loved that part of Tennessee. The facilities are great and I also got to see all the construction and everything they are building. The weight training coach, coach Mac, took me and showed me the new weight room they are building and it is almost done. It was really nice."

Mustafaa has visits scheduled for Mississippi State (April 7), Nebraska (April 14) and Oklahoma State (April 21), but the Vols left a lasting impression on the Alpharetta, Ga., native.

"I am definitely really interested in Tennessee," he said. "I will make my top list soon and they really did make a great impression on me during my visit."

Chris Price is a staff writer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously an intern for the site for two years before graduating from the University of Tennessee. He joined the InsideTennessee team in 2009.

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