Signee profile: Jerod Askew

One Tennessee football signee says he has been working with a personal trainer in recent weeks "so I won't be gassed when I get in there with the big dogs."

That's an interesting observation since, at 6-feet and 233 pounds, Jerod Askew probably qualifies as one of "the big dogs" in his own right.

A highly touted linebacker from Chesapeake, Va., Askew has added five pounds of muscle since signing with the Vols last February. He hopes that muscle will help him make some plays and turn some heads when preseason camp begins in August.

"Right now I'm working with a personal trainer to try and get ready," he said by phone from his family home. "I'm trying to build my wind so I won't be gassed when I get in there with the big dogs. I'm trying to get my conditioning up so I'll be on point, ready to go when I get there."

Bob Lichtenfels, a regional manager for, suggests that the versatile Virginian could be quite a find for the Vols.

"Askew flies around the field from sideline to sideline," Lichtenfels writes. "He really uses his speed to his advantage. He is a tremendous hitter and he finishes his tackles. He has a very nice blend of size and power and is dominant in the middle.

"He is a very versatile linebacker who can play anywhere on the field. He is one of those rare talents that can take a game over at the linebacker position. Askew is also a great lead blocker as a fullback. He is an outstanding pass rusher at linebacker."

Asked which position is his best, Askew replied: "Basically, any linebacker position you put me at. I'm a guy who's going to take over on the defensive side. I'm a physical guy, and I go wherever the ball goes."

Tennessee's coaches, he added, believe he's best suited for the middle or weak side. Still, he says they're planning to try him on the strong side in August.

"They want me on strong side for now, then they plan to move me to weak side when Rico McCoy leaves," he said. "That (weak side) is basically my position."

Having originally committed to Phillip Fulmer, Askew re-evaluated his decision when Fulmer resigned under pressure last November.

"I thought I might de-commit when the other coaching staff left but the new staff did everything to make me want to stay," Askew recalled. "I liked the (previous) coaches but knowing the coaches that came in were as good – maybe even better – convinced me that I needed to stay with Tennessee. And that stadium and stuff took my head over, man."

Tennessee's new coaches bring incredible energy to the recruiting trail and the practice field. Askew is amazed by their enthusiasm.

"Yeah, you can feel it and you hear about it from some of the players," he said. "They say every day the coaches bring the energy you need to win a national championship, and that's what I want to be a part of. I know going in I can be part of something very big."

Askew says he is fully eligible, adding that "All I'm waiting for is to graduate." Since graduation day is June 11th, he must wait until the second session of summer school to enroll at UT.

Askew posted some mind-boggling stats last fall – 140 stops, 22 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and three interceptions. His junior stats were almost as imposing – 126 stops, 20 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and two interceptions. Productivity isn't all he brings to the lineup, however.

"I bring leadership, basically," he said. "I'm the guy that's determined to do whatever it takes to get to that ball. When people see how I step up, they want to step up. I bring leadership and teamwork. I make my teammates realize that it's not just one guy but all of us."

With only McCoy returning from last season's Vol linebacking trio, Askew has a chance to earn substantial playing time, maybe even a starting job. That's not his immediate priority, however.

"My goal is to stay focused on teamwork, knowing that I'm not used to all of these new people from everywhere who signed with Tennessee," he said. "I just want to focus on dealing with the new players."

That makes sense. There will be plenty of time to fit in with "the big dogs" later on.

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