Little 'backers

Little linebackers often make a big impact … on the people they hit and the teams they represent.

That's why Tennessee football fans should be thrilled that a couple of undersized, under-publicized ‘backers – LaMarcus Thompson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Dorian Davis (Iowa City) – committed to the Vols over the past few days. History suggests they'll do quite well.

Thompson (6-1, 203) and Davis (6-1, 200) fit the mold of recent Vol linebackers such as Earnest Fields, Darryl Hardy, Scott Galyon, Al Wilson, Eric Westmoreland, Eddie Moore, Kevin Burnett and Omar Gaither. All of those guys were considered a bit short, a bit light (or both) when they enrolled. Several played running back or safety (or both) at the prep level. Only Wilson and Burnett were considered top-drawer recruits.

But look how they panned out:

Fields started four years (1988-91) and is the third-leading tackler in school history with 407 stops.

Hardy started three years (1989-91) and ranks No.10 for career primary tackles with 227.

Galyon started three years (1993-95), leading in tackles twice and recording the most fumble recoveries (8) in program history.

Wilson started three years (1996-98) and ranks second all-time in minus-yardage stops (27).

Westmoreland started three years (1998-2000) and ranks No. 1 all-time in minus-yardage stops (34).

Moore started two years (2001-2002), led in tackles as a senior and was the first Vol picked in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Burnett started three years (2002-2004) and was the first Vol taken in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Gaither started two years (2004-05) and was a two-time second-team All-SEC pick.

If Tennessee's two newest commitments are anything like the guys mentioned above, their lack of size and notoriety won't stop them from becoming outstanding players at the college level.

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