CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tennessee reaped the benefits of having a game-changing linebacker patrol the second level last season, and if 2014 was any indication, Jalen Reeves-Maybin is set to reproduce his gaudy numbers again this year. The Vols understand the inherent need for a player like Reeves-Maybin, which is why they have their eyes resolutely locked on Scout four-star linebacker Jaleel Laguins.
The No. 1 ranked outside linebacker in the state of Georgia for the 2016 class has been inundated with offers since he broke out on the scene two seasons ago, including one from Tennessee, and now he’s sifting through all of them as his recruitment hits its apex.
“It’s picking up right now,” Laguins said at The Opening Charlotte on Saturday. “It’s picking up. I’m just enjoying it right now.”
Laguins turned in a notable performance at the Nike camp, using it as a chance to show coaches and analysts his coverage ability and 4.5 40-yard-dash speed. The 6-3, 207-pound rising senior enjoyed the chance to compete in an event that slices through the dullness of summer before high school fall camp get started.
“I’m just getting better as an athlete,” Laguins said. “(I look forward to) being able to come out here and just compete with a bunch of guys and whatnot, just being able to come out here and say I went out here and competed and gave it my all.”
The competition is just as fierce on the recruiting trail, where schools like Auburn, Florida State, Georgia and Nebraska all fight Tennessee for the No. 10 ranked linebacker’s talents. Laguins wasn’t very familiar with the Vols’ program before he received his offer last year, but after a little Internet research, they began warming up to him.
“At first, I didn’t really think too much of it. After I went out there for my unofficial visit I did my homework on them and I started to really like them again,” Laguins said. “I went back up there for a junior day and they grew on me even more. I’m really starting to like Tennessee now.”
Defensive coordinator John Jancek talks with his coveted recruit “at least three times a week” according to Laguins, and the Peach State’s best junior outside linebacker appreciates the constant show of love Jancek and company show him.
But the Vols will have to beat out some established SEC programs and a recent national champion to acquire his talents with more schools surely looking to throw their that in the ring soon.
The opportunity is there, though, and Laguins currently has no list of top schools or favorites at this stage in the game. The Watkinsville, Georgia, native plans to visit Knoxville this summer, as well as Florida State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Georgia and Auburn.
“I looked at what (Tennessee) had done in the past, and just the coaches and the success that they’ve had,” Laguins said.
“Coach (Butch) Jones and the success that he’s had, the early success that he’s had really at Tennessee, I think that if they bring in the right guys, that success could take them even further.”