1. Juwan Mitchell
This is the position that got decimated in the offseason, so it’s probably good news for Tennessee football that Tim Banks’ scheme usually just uses two linebackers. Texas Longhorns transfer Juwan Mitchell can help offset Henry To’o To’o’s Quavaris Crouch’s transfer to the Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan State Spartans respectively.
The 6’1″ 226-pound senior was a key pickup for Josh Heupel and will likely immediately start at inside linebacker. Last year, he had 62 tackles, 32 of which were solo, to go along with four and a half tackles for a loss. In 2019 he had three sacks and four pass deflections, so he brings the versatility necessary to play inside linebacker in this scheme.
2. Aaron Willis
Given all the transfers and losses, Aaron Willis was expected to be the Vols’ most promising freshman. However, the four-star had to miss spring ball due to a legal issue. That’s cleared up, but it nullified the advantage he would have had over so many other guys.
As a result, Willis will be the backup to Mitchell, who now has the advantage due to experience. That doesn’t mean, though, that the 6’1″ 225-pound freshman won’t see any action. He’ll still be a key part of the defense, and he’s the future of this unit.