Vols Pursue JC Tackle

Given the range of physical and mental requirements needed to play defensive tackle in college, developing high school prospects to man such a demanding position is a tall task. That's why more Division-I schools are eliminating a lot of the guess work by recruiting Junior College D-linemen.

True, you may only have them two years, but unless its an exceptional prospect it will take at least that long to get a high school player ready to hold his own in the trenches anyway. Rationally, if a player can only help you for two seasons why would you sign him four years.

Tennessee has done particularly well converting JC prospects into college ready tackles in recent years. Players such as Demetrin Veal, Aubrayo Franklin and Jesse Mahelona are examples of players that contributed as starters for the Vols between Junior College and the NFL.

This year the Vols are searching the JC ranks for tackles that can contribute to the defense in 2007, and appear to have found a qualified candidate in Rolando Barragan of El Camino Community College in California, who played at Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif. He was recruited by several D-I programs out of high school but narrowly missed qualifying.

As a freshman the 6-foot-3, 270-pound Barragan recorded 46 tackles, including 10 for losses with five sacks and a pair of recovered fumbles, while playing where needed in the defensive line. The versatile sophomore was used at defensive end, nose tackle and tackle.

He recovered from an ankle injury in the offseason and has added weight and strength. Now he's poised for what should be a standout sophomore campaign. He's on course to graduate in December which means he can participate in spring practice at the school of his choice.

And Barragan has plenty of options for the next level including a couple of attractive offers from SEC schools.

"Oklahoma, Tennessee and Auburn all offered me," Barragan told Scout.com's Brandon Huffman. "Washington, Arizona, UCLA and Oregon are all recruiting me too. USC is right here and they are a little interested."

Although the west coast is his home, Barragan doesn't have any problems with playing in the south or middle America.

"It doesn't matter to me where I play, I just want to play," he said. "I mean it would be cool to play close, but it doesn't matter." He is just as open in regard to the position he plays, but it seems that he is growing into a tackle.

"I'll play where they need me," he said. "With my size, I'm probably a tackle." Barragan currently lists Oklahoma and Tennessee as his favorites.

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