Jalen Reeves-Maybin enjoyed a successful first season as Tennessee’s starting outside linebacker. After spending his freshman season leading the Vols in special teams tackles (11), Reeves-Maybin recorded a team-best 101 tackles in 2014, tying for eighth best in the SEC.
The Clarksville native also started in all 13 games for Tennessee at WILL linebacker proving his stamina was capable of making the jump to a starting role.
Earlier this month, Reeves-Maybin was named a 2015 Hammer Strength All-American. Hammer Strength honors “the most outstanding college athletes who exemplify the best of what it takes, on and off the field, to become an elite athlete.”
Tennessee strength and conditioning coach Dave Lawson praised Reeves-Maybin in a statement released by the team after his nomination.
“Jalen is a very tough and competitive football player that brings an intense energy and focus to every workout and practice,” Lawson said. “He is developing into a solid leader in our program because of his consistent hard work and tough, competitive play on the field. He is a good example how working hard off the field can translate to maximizing performance on the field. He has a great understanding of the system and, more importantly, how it applies to playing football at Tennessee.
“We are proud that he is able to represent our program and the state of Tennessee with this award.”
The award is further proof that Reeves-Maybin is capable of being a star both on and off the field. He has shown both the talent and maturity to represent a major college football program.
Reeves-Maybin continues to progress in his development as a player. He recorded 25 tackles in his final three games in the absence of suspended teammate A.J. Johnson.
While Johnson received the glory for most of the season, Reeves-Maybin enjoyed consistent production alongside the veteran linebacker. His success in Johnson’s absence proves that he is capable of becoming Tennessee’s primary linebacker and leading the defense.
With Johnson’s the departure, the Vols have a vacancy at middle linebacker. Freshman Darren Kirkland Jr. could make a case to earn the starting job but, obviously, has little experience at the college level.
This is where Reeves-Maybin benefits his team as a veteran presence. Similar to last season, the Vols will use a first-year starter regardless of who they decide on at middle linebacker. It helps when you have a solid performer like Reeves-Maybin and DE/LB hybrid Curt Maggitt on the outside to help an inexperienced teammate.
Reeves-Maybin will be the most productive tackler for Tennessee and will aid in the maturation process of his less experienced teammates. The Vols have a player capable of stepping into a leadership role and guiding his peers through his actions.
The spotlight is on Reeves-Maybin in his third season at Tennessee and there should be little doubt that he’ll take advantage of it. He has the potential to be a star in the SEC as a junior and should continue his impressive production. The Vols defense will continue to show improvement and Reeves-Maybin will be a major factor in the team’s success.