On the last day to put final touches on its 2014 class, Tennessee continued both its year-long purge of the state's top prospects and its quest to solidify a rebuilding defensive line with Michael Sawyers' announcement to commit to the Vols on National Signing Day.
The Scout four-star defensive tackle gives Tennessee 10 in-state players and eight defensive linemen pledged to its Scout second-ranked 2014 class. He selected the Vols over Ole Miss.
The Semper Fidelis All-American, who's long-time commitment to Vanderbilt ended with the departure of James Franklin to Penn State, provides the Vols with a stout option as a three-technique at 6-foot-3, 295-pounds.
With the Vols losing its entire starting defensive line because of graduation, Sawyers will be battling for early playing time with a depleted group of interior linemen.
Greg Clark, Danny O'Brien and Trevarris Saulsberry make up the experienced returners to help the Vols plug the middle come next fall. JUCO transfer Owen Williams also seems like a shoe in for early field time, but otherwise Sawyers will be joining a host of newcomers to fight for the remaining two-deep space.
The defensive tackle position was certainly a priority for the Vols in this 2014 class. Since JUCO standout DaVonte Lambert's the last-second switch to Auburn, Tennessee made a late push to land both Sawyers and fellow in-state product Jashon Robertson to patch-up the loss.
Tennessee also received the fax from fellow in-state standout Derek Barnett just before Sawyers' decision broke.
The Antioch, Tenn., native brings a winning history to the Tennessee roster. He claimed four straight TSSAA Division II Class AA state championships at Ensworth (Tenn.) High School.