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Quavaris Crouch 'unreal' at LB, 'a perfect fit' for Jeremy Pruitt's defense

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SAN ANTONIO — Quavaris Crouch is so confident in his full-time transition to linebacker in college he called the move “easy” after one practice at the All-American Bowl in Texas.

His former high school coach believes Crouch's self-assurance isn’t misguided, either.

“He’s going to be unreal,” said Sam Griner, who coached Crouch for three years at Harding University in Charlotte.

“Inside linebacker or doing some things off the edge in situational football. He’s special. Just watch.”

Griner witnessed Crouch’s abilities first-hand at Harding, where the 6-foot-2, 237-pound Tennessee signee starred at tailback and linebacker for the Rams. In their run to the state championship in 2017, Crouch had 42 tackles and 14 sacks in a situational role on defense.

Schools across the country allowed Crouch to pick his position in college, and the Charlotte native settled on linebacker in hopes of furthering his NFL dreams. After weighing his options, Tennessee’s 3-4 scheme was a perfect fit for Crouch's skill-set, as the Vols plan to utilize the All-American at both inside and outside ‘backer.

“Q believes he can’t fail with Pruitt in his corner,” Griner said.

“Pruitt has the ability to look in your eyes and say, ‘Look. You want to be in the foxhole with you. I’m going to make sure you become great.’”

While Crouch doesn’t have a ton of experience playing in the box at middle linebacker, Griner said Tennessee’s staff believes he compares favorably to former Alabama linebackers Dont’a Hightower and C.J. Mosely. Like their plans for JJ Peterson, the Vols hope to move Crouch around the defense, depending on the formation or situation.

"That’s exactly who (Pruitt) compared Q to,” Griner said. “He looks at him just like a Hightower. He is so good. I’m trying to tell you.”

Crouch sat out Wednesday’s practice at the All-American Bowl with a shoulder stinger, but on Day 1 in Texas the 4-star athlete made his presence felt during a spirited (and live) run-fit drill in full pads.

“Yesterday he went five plays inside and destroyed people,” Griner said.

“He’s the best natural tackler you’ll see. He has explosion ability of those running backs but he’s a large, large man. His knowledge of the game, wanting to learn.

"He’s a perfect fit for Pruitt and that defense.”