3. Edge rusher
There are two questions with this one. Schematically, we don’t know how the edge rusher will line up. Tim Banks is still listing them as linebackers, as if Tennessee football still runs a 3-4, but historically, Banks has run a nickel-heavy 4-3. In that situation, the edge rusher would just be a weakside defensive end. Still, at least Banks is stressing the need to be multiple.
Anyway, the Vols have major openings here. Kivon Bennett was their star edge rusher last year, but he was dismissed from the team late in the season. Deandre Johnson, meanwhile, entered the transfer portal and joined the Miami Hurricanes.
The good news for UT is that there is plenty of promising talent here. Rocky Top has Tyler Baron, a rising star, along with Roman Harrison. Junior college transfer Byron Young was also added during the offseason, and Bryson Eason moved over to outside linebacker during the spring. One of these guys is bound to step up.
Given the potential change in scheme, it’s possible that two guys end up starting in this role on either side of the defensive tackles. This is one area dependent on the scheme Banks and Josh Heupel choose to go with, so that makes it an even bigger story.