6. No. 2 Inside linebacker
Shanon Reid; Solon Page III; Will Ignont; J.J. Peterson; Quavaris Crouch; Henry To’oto’o
When Jeremy Pruitt said Tennessee football is on the potential side of things more than anything else, that was no truer at any spot than inside linebacker. The Vols have one starter set in stone here, and he is inside linebacker Daniel Bituli, already one of the top defensive players, a senior, and the most improved defender in the spring.
However, after the forced retirement of Darrin Kirkland Jr. due to numerous injuries, the No. 2 inside linebacker is up for grabs. Kirkland was out in the spring, and it was up for grabs then too, with Shanon Reid and Solon Page III joining Bituli on the first team.
Will Ignont is definitely a guy in contention for it, though, and redshirt freshman J.J. Peterson could make a run at it now with a full offseason in the system after having to sit out all the way through the midway point of last year. Simply put, there are some returning options.
But then there are some new options. Quavaris Crouch and Henry To’oto’o were both elite four-star commitments to the program from this past year’s recruiting class. Crouch was an early enrollee and didn’t make the first team, but as an athlete, he is very versatile and at least has a head start in the system.
To’oto’o arrived in the summer and now has a chance to show what he can do. All six of these guys have an equal chance to start alongside Bituli at inside linebacker. Pruitt said he likes inside linebackers who can play all four spots, and Bituli can do that, so one advantage will be if another guy among those players can do so as well.