Music City's Barnett heading to Rocky Top

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Tennessee's top rivals year-in, year-out in the Southeastern Conference are Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

If the trio have something in common it's that all three recruit at an extremely high level, including at the quarterback position.

Between the 2013 and 2014 classes, those three have a combined eight quarterbacks committed/enrolled with five of them being FOX Sports/Scout four-star prospects.

To get its defense off the field in years to come, the Tennessee defense must put pressure on those signal-callers without having to bring extra defenders. Players committed in the '14 class that should help are four-star lineman Davonte Lambert and three-star Joseph Henderson.

That group grew by one Wednesday as D-lineman Derek Barnett declared his intentions to be a Volunteer.

"Felt like home," Barnett told InsideTennessee. "It's home to me. Coach (Butch) Jones is one of the coolest, nicest coaches I've met. I know he's going to help me and do the best for the program."

With run stoppers and pass rushers being such a premium in the Vols' 2014 class, the staff showed No. 9 plenty of love after informing them of his college choice.

"All of them were yelling, screaming and stuff," Barnett said. "They were excited, I was excited, and my mom was real happy. Everybody at my school has been congratulating me. The coaching staff was really hype."

Living roughly 3 hours west of Knoxville, the Nashville resident is sure to get more than enough attention now that his college destination is known.

"I'm ready for it," he said. "You've just got to handle it the right way. I'm prepared to handle it the right way. I'm ready for that."

Barnett is rated by FOX/Scout as a three-star prospect out Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy and the No. 39 defensive end in the country. He makes Tennessee commitment No. 26.

The Nashville native attended coach Butch Jones' first-ever practice at Tennessee back in March, again this summer and was in the first row behind the north end zone to see the Big Orange beat South Alabama 31-24 on Sept. 28. However, he started pondering an orange-clad future years ago.

"Probably the first game I visited my freshman year against LSU," Barnett said. "I wasn't a prospect. I was just a fan. I could see myself being a Vol at that time."

Tennessee coaches believe Barnett can play anywhere on the D-line depending on how much stronger he gets. He could wind up being used how Vols senior Corey Miller is being used this fall by playing end on early downs and sliding inside to tackle on passing downs.

Lining up on defense in the future for the Big Orange behind Barnett will be former Brentwood Academy teammate RaShaan Gaulden. They two have quite a bond and appear thrilled to be running through the T side by side in the near future.

"Really excited," Barnett said. "Since we were in middle school, we told each other we were going to play college ball together. Now we get the opportunity to do that so it's just icing on the cake."

Barnett was one of few players in the Volunteer State to represent at The Opening event on Nike Headquarters back in early July. He was timed electronically running the 40-yard dash in 4.94 seconds and with a shuttle time of 4.24 seconds.

After helping Brentwood Academy defeat Pope John Paul 57-6 on Friday, Barnett made the short drive over to Vanderbilt. The Commodores were beat soundly by Missouri 51-28. However, he did learn of the Vols' near upset of No. 6 Georgia, which gives him faith in the direction on The Hill.

"Yeah, it does," Barnett said. "I was getting updates throughout the day. My friends were texting me. Yeah, it gives me hope."

The Eagles (4-3) host McCallie (3-4) in an East/Middle Region matchup for Week 7 on Friday night.

"Yeah, I know we can (have a special season)," Barnett said. "I'm just so glad I got this out of the way. I don't have to worry about nothin' else no more. If we do the little things right and execute, we'll be fine."

The future Vol doesn't know when he will take his official visit but plans to get to at least a couple of Tennessee's final home games.

Check out some senior clips of Barnett in action from InsideTennessee below:

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the FOX Sports NEXT team July 2011.
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