Doc Five: Top five defensive players poised for a comeback in 2014 - No. 3 - Curt Maggitt

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
Tennessee v South Carolina
COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 27: Connor Shaw #14 of the South Carolina Gamecocks tries to avoid Curt Maggitt #56 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 27, 2012 in Columbia, South Carolina. South Carolina won 38-35. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.

Last week, in honor of the San Antonio Spurs rebounding from a crushing defeat in 2013 to win the 2014 NBA Finals in triumphant fashion, we decided to focus on the college football players who suffered setbacks last season who are prime candidates to come back strong.

We started with the offensive side of the ball for our countdown last week and included guys like Florida’s Jeff Driskel, Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton and Louisville’s Michael Dyer.

Now we will turn it over to the defensive side of the ball.


No. 3: Curt Maggitt, LB, Tennessee

After committing to Tennessee just before signing day in 2011, linebacker Curt Maggitt arrived in Knoxville and immediately established himself as one of the Volunteers’ best linebackers. It didn’t take long for Maggitt to earn a starting role and he ended up starting eight games and registering 56 total tackles on the season – the fourth-most for a true freshman in UT history.

He came back as a sophomore as the clear starter on the inside, but he suffered a torn ACL in the Volunteers’ ninth game against Missouri in November, ending his season. Instead of trying to rush back from a severe injury, Maggitt opted to redshirt the 2013 instead of trying to play on a right knee that was not at 100 percent.

It has been a long time – nearly 20 months – since Maggitt stepped on the field for Tennessee. His return and veteran presence will be a welcomed sight for the Vols. Maggitt practiced at a full-go without a non-contact jersey in spring practice and Butch Jones has some plans as to how he will unleash the redshirt junior.

While he is penciled in at linebacker, the 6-foot-3, 244-pound Maggitt was seen lining up at defensive end during spring practice. He could give an added jolt to Tennessee’s pass rushing unit.

Jones praised Maggitt's versatility and called him the team's "leader."

“It makes a big difference (to have him back). He's our leader. He brings versatility to our defense in terms of being able to put him in a 3-point stance and rush the passer, or put him in the second level of our defense at the linebacker position. He’s very explosive, so to be able to get him back on the field is a big benefit for us."

Some rust can be expected for Maggitt after his long layoff, but with senior A.J. Johnson at his side, the Vols have two formidable upperclassmen manning the linebacker position in Jones’ second season.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!