Tennessee football: Aaron Beasley’s reinstatement mitigates LB concerns

Tennessee defensive back Aaron Beasley (24) during football practice on Tuesday, October 15, 2019.Kns Vols Filmstudy
Tennessee defensive back Aaron Beasley (24) during football practice on Tuesday, October 15, 2019.Kns Vols Filmstudy /

When spring practice began, inside linebacker was becoming a concern of historic proportions for Tennessee football. The Vols lost their top two players at the position to transfer, Henry To’o To’o and Quavaris Crouch, who have joined the Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan State Spartans respectively. J.J. Peterson also entered the portal.

Then there was an off-campus incident before spring ball began that resulted in the suspensions of redshirt freshman Martavius French and true freshman Aaron Willis, both four-stars expected to be future standout players. French has since entered the transfer portal. Aaron Beasley, meanwhile, was suspended for a different incident.

With all of these guys out for spring ball, Tennessee football was severely limited, and it showed. However, things have now begun to turn around. In the latest development of the Vols beefing up the position, Beasley was reinstated after his charges were dropped, according to Patrick Brown of GoVols247.

That news comes after Willis’ reinstatement earlier this month. Meanwhile, the Vols have added Texas Longhorns transfer Juwan Mitchell and Michigan Wolverines transfer William Mohan. They aren’t where they were before all of this hit, but they now have options again at the position.

Things are looking even better when you consider the schematic change the program is going through with Tim Banks. He is switching from a 3-4 back to a 4-3, and the base will be heavily reliant on the nickel, often just using two linebackers, one of whom could be an edge rusher.

As for Beasley specifically, he should provide a lot of help to the Vols. Last year, playing in mostly reserve time, the 6’1″ 225-pound rising junior had seven tackles, assisted in a tackle for a loss and forced a fumble. That was after switching back and forth between defensive back and linebacker. He should be settled in at linebacker now.

Taking that into a larger context, UT is about to be much deeper at the position than it looked in April. Like Solon Page III, who stood out as a leader in spring ball and did everything he could, Beasley helps to bring experience to the position, so his reinstatement is huge.

Mitchell, meanwhile, is a proven producer at inside linebacker, and Wills brings all the potential as a highly touted recruit. Mohan, who saw limited action as a freshman last year at Michigan, also brings potential. We should also note that former walk-on Kwauze Garland began to generate headlines at the position during spring ball.

Simply put, Banks appears to be able to go three-deep with two inside linebackers now, and Brian Jean-Mary should be able to sort out how to put together that rotation. Beasley’s reinstatement is another huge step towards that.

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This unit won’t be as elite as it would’ve been with To’o To’o and Crouch, but Tennessee football definitely has serviceable players there now. If they can get a solid performance from their defensive line and the secondary develops, maybe the defense will look much better in the fall than it did in the spring.