8. Edge rushers
Although Tim Banks switched back from a 3-4 to a nickel-based 4-2-5, he clearly has the edge rushers playing their own position. After all, Josh Heupel hired an inside linebackers and outside linebackers coach, and guys who would play defensive end in a 4-3 but outside linebacker in a 3-4 are still listed as linebackers on the roster.
As a result, for this system, we’re continuing to have a separate position just labeled edge rushers. Tennessee football took a hit here similar to what they suffered at linebacker. Deandre Johnson and Kivon Bennett entered the transfer portal, although Bennett was dismissed before the end of last season, and 2021 commit Dylan Brooks was released from his letter of intent.
The Vols did have some young guys begin to stand out with those changes, including Bryson Eason and Byron Young, and they have some rising stars at the position already in Morven Joseph, Roman Harrison and Tyler Baron. However, only Young stood out in spring ball, and the lack of names standing out was an issue.
In the spring game, there wasn’t a lot of pressure throughout the day. Given how limited Heupel kept everything, it may not be much to worry about, but based on what happened specifically in the spring, this unit could have been better.