While Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett will garner many of press clippings heading into this weekend’s game, Tennessee has an outstanding edge rusher in its own right.

Derek Barnett was the first true freshman to ever start a season for the Volunteers. He accrued 33.5 tackles-for-loss and 20.0 sacks through his first two seasons in Knoxville. Suffice it to say, but the junior has consistently demonstrated why he’s a dominant force up front.

During Wednesday’s teleconference, head coach Butch Jones spoke about what makes Barnett such a special player. It’d be easy to focus on his immense physical tools. Instead, Jones emphasized Barnett’s character and will to be great:

“Barnett’s leadership has helped us. The thing about him, his approach is relentless. It’s all about being the best as he can possibly be. As a coach consistency is key and he brings that. He’s someone driven to excellence every day. Has the highest expectations. Saw internal greatness in him. He brings it every single day.”

A key storyline in this weekend’s massive game will be how each team blocks up front along the offensive line. In essence, the battle within the game between Garrett and Barnett could go a long way in determining the winner of this contest.