Herman The Monster

Over the years Tennessee has prospered by turning safeties into linebackers — i.e. Kevin Burnett, Eddie Moore and Raynoch Thompson — however if the Vols can secure the services of a rising Baton Rouge prospect they could reverse that process and end up with a monster.

At 6-0.5, 185, Herman Lathers would need to make some major gains in the weight room and on the training table to play Division I linebacker. Undoubtedly, he could achieve that but it would take time and he runs the risk of gaining a couple of clicks on the clock. That might leave you with a light linebacker that's a step slow.

On the other hand, if he gained 15 pounds and retained his 4.50 speed he could become a rugged run support safety capable of covering receivers or blitzing signal caller. That would put him in the "monster" category, a term often used for a hybrid safety/linebacker.

Most college teams deploy such a position on defense at least some of the time, even if they call it something else. It's not an easy role to fill and in essence gives defensive coordinators an element of down-and-distance flexibility that doesn't require wholesale substitutions. It can also force offenses into a guessing mode.

Lather has the athleticism to become such a player on the next level. He was named to Scout.com's All-Combine team in New Orleans after posting some impressive numbers in the short shuttle (4.31), three-cone drill (7.07), standing broad jump (9.3) and vertical leap (31.3). That's where he also ran the 4.5 flat.

His stats as a junior at Istrouma High School were also noteworthy as he compiled 96 tackles with 15 sacks. His knack for the sack bodes well for his ability to pressure off the edge or up the middle on blitzes.

Ranked a three-star prospect by Scout.com and No. 36 among weak-side linebackers in the nation's Class of 2008, Lathers caught the eye of Tennessee's coaching staff at the Vols senior camp in June.

"Tennessee offered me and now I've got them, Ole Miss, Baylor, Tulane and Stanford," Lathers told Scout.com's Sonny Shipp. "LSU, Purdue and Louisiana Tech are real interested but they haven't offered yet."

He also camped with the hometown Tigers who have informed Lathers they want to see him play as a senior at Scotlandville Magnet School where he decided to transfer along with teammates Dallas Thomas and LaQuintin Caston.

Before receiving an offer from UT last week, Lathers was beginning to wonder if the Vols were still interested in him.

  "I went to their camp in late June and they told me they were going to be contacting me but they never did," he told Shipp. "Then they contacted me right before that text messaging ban went into effect and they said that I had an offer."

  Getting that offer pushed the Vols to the head of Lathers' favorites list where they have company and serious competition.

  "It's between LSU and Tennessee," he said. "I like them both about the same."

This recruiting battle could be a monster in the making.  

Inside Tennessee Top Stories