Vols Pursue Derek Pegues

Derek Pegues is an athletic high school quarterback coveted by a long list of suitors, who can hurt teams with the run or pass, but in college he'll do his damage with the catch or cover.

As a junior, the 5-foot-11, 185-pounder led Panola High School in Batesville, Miss., to the state championship game last season as he ran for 1,500 yards and 31 TDs, while passing for 1,200 yards and 13 scores. He has posted similar numbers as a senior and has impressed scouts with his coverage skills at cornerback. Pegues has intercepted four passes and recorded 16 pass breakups with 35 tackles through 10 games as a senior.

Rated the nation's No. 15 corner by Scout.com, Pegues could easily rank among the top five defensive backs if he played that position exclusively. Blessed with 4.5 speed in the 40 and outstanding transition skills, he also has impressive strength and physical toughness.

"I have good speed and quickness," he said. "I'm fast and move well. I'm real athletic and play with a lot of emotion. I still want to improve my speed and footwork. I want to get better at covering and work on my lateral movement."

Pegues has been invited to play in the U.S. Army All-American game in January where he'll have an opportunity to show he can hang with country's best wide receivers. Playing time on the next level is a high priority for Pegues who is closely monitoring the depth charts at his top five schools. He hasn't taken any official visits yet but he has maintained a consistent list of colleges that he will visit.

"I like Tennessee, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss and Alabama," he told Ryan Jordan of Scout.com. "Right now I really don't have a favorite. I'll take all my visits after the season and decide sometime in January."

Although Pegues doesn't currently have a favorite he did have a favorite growing up.

"I just always liked them (Tennessee) growing up," he said of the Vols. "They were my favorite team."

Tennessee appears to fit the bill nicely for his other criteria in selecting a college.

"I just want a good football program, a good coaching staff and a good academic program," he said. "Also a coach that gets along with his players and that's going to be there for a while."

The Vols have identified Pegues as a prospect who they could plug into the corner rotation next season or as part of nickel or dime packages.

Now they hope to parlay his childhood preference into prized pickup.

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