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Derek Barnett intends to enter 2017 NFL Draft

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Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett intends to apply for early eligibility to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

Barnett thanked Volunteers fans for their support over his three years as a starter via Twitter.

Barnett (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) has been among the SEC's top pass rushers since his freshman season in 2014, and recorded a career-high 13 sacks as a junior. Barnett is also very effective against the run, setting a hard edge on perimeter rushes and shedding blockers quickly to control running lanes. Barnett recorded 19 tackles for loss this season, and his play caught the eye of NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein.

College underclassmen face a Jan. 16 deadline to apply for early draft eligibility.

Against one of the most talented left tackles on the Volunteers schedule -- Alabama's Cam Robinson -- Barnett's play got an 'A' grade from NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah. He beat Robinson for a strip-sack and showed impressive hand technique, per Jeremiah, and played well despite a 49-10 loss.

Barnett has made 10, 10 and 13 sacks in his three years at UT for a total of 33 that broke late Hall of Famer Reggie White's school record. He recorded the record-breaking sack with just a few minutes remaining in UT's last game against Nebraska in the Music City Bowl.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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