There is a lot of untapped potential among Tennessee football’s linebackers. Here’s our preview of the Volunteers at that position for 2019.
Despite being known as Wide Receiver U, Tennessee football has a deep history of producing great talent at linebacker as well. Arguably the Vols’ greatest player, Al Wilson, is a linebacker, and he was the only All-American on their only national championship team post-integration.
Last year, amidst the transition to a 3-4 defense, there was a bit of a delay in linebackers making an impact. However, by the midway point of the season, the unit began wreaking havoc on many offenses in the SEC.
Now, whether that was due to help from an elite defensive line remains to be seen. To be fair, even if it was, maybe there’s a chance this new defensive line, with three new starters, could have the same impact to help linebackers get pressure.
So for now, let’s focus on linebackers. Tennessee football loses one starter due to injury retirement at inside linebacker and one due to graduation at outside linebacker, but the one they lost to graduation suffered a season-ending injury midway through last year. As a result, the Vols have a good bit of talent returning.
Meanwhile, they added two inside linebackers and an edge rusher who will play outside linebacker in this recruiting class. Despite many of the outside linebackers being guys who could play outside linebacker or defensive end, Jeremy Pruitt said from the start his system requires linebackers to be able to play all four positions.
With another offseason to develop those guys, how close he is to that remains to be seen. But he did have a couple of big recruiting coups at the position, so even with the two losses, the depth is building thanks to those additions and more experience.
What does it mean for the season? Well, as we get set to preview the Vols at linebacker, we’re going to break that all down. As always, will have our projected starters, projected backups, biggest questions and final take all on separate pages.
Our projected starters will be separated into inside linebackers and outside linebackers. So let’s go ahead an analyze where the program stands here. This is our preview of the Tennessee football 2019 season at the linebacker position.