KNOXVILLE - Tennessee's defense received some welcomed news on Monday night.
Junior college linebacker Chris Weatherd has been cleared to enroll in classes and appears to be on track to join the Volunteers for the start of preseason practice in less than a couple of weeks.
Tennessee associate athletic director for communication Jimmy Stanton confirmed Weatherd's clearance to the Times Free Press via text message.
While 14 players in the Vols' touted 2014 class enrolled in January and went through spring practice and 18 more arrived on campus earlier this summer, Weatherd was the lone question mark of the class.
A source inside the program told the Times Free Press earlier this summer the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas was "50-50" on making it and needed to complete a couple of online classes this summer.
As recently as last week, however, the Vols were confident in Weatherd's status. Before beginning his interview rounds at SEC media days a week ago today, second-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones said there was a "great chance" Weatherd would be cleared and complete the Vols' class.
His clearance means the Vols will get all 32 signees into school after suffering just one academic casualty -- tailback Jabo Lee -- in the 2013 class.
Weatherd committed to Tennessee in late May, and the Vols held off overtures from Texas A&M and Auburn to secure a player who could play outside linebacker or rush off the edge on passing downs. His offer list included Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas State and Iowa State.
The Texas native was rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals, 247sports and Scout.
"As a JuCo player, you obviously want to learn from your mistakes," Weatherd told the Times Free Press last November. "You go in and handle your business at the college you're at, and when somebody calls and needs your help, you should be able to get there and help right away. That's how I went at it.
"[Tennessee] called me up, and obviously they need help at linebacker because they're losing some, so it'd be awesome for me to go in there and contribute right away and make a big impact."
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.