New team: Miami Hurricanes
Make it three players in a row who only have one year of eligibility remaining, somewhat lessening the issues with their departures. Deandre Johnson replaced Darrell Taylor as Tennessee football’s top edge rusher last year, particularly due to the dismissal of Kivon Bennett. If Bennett hadn’t been dismissed before the season ended, though, he would have been on here.
Anyway, Johnson had six tackles for a loss, four and a half sacks, two forced fumbles and 28 total tackles, 17 of which were solo, in 2020. He got better ever year for the Vols, registering a career total of 15.5 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, a pass deflection, five forced fumbles and 58 tackles, 32 of which were solo.
Given Bennett’s dismissal last year, the transfer of the 6’3″ 255-pound pass rusher to the Miami Hurricanes is brutal for the Vols. How they end up replacing him depends on the scheme Tim Banks runs, which may not be a 3-4.
To be fair, there are some rising stars who could fill the void, including Tyler Baron, Byron Young, Bryson Eason, Roman Harrison and even Morven Joseph. However, none were as proven as Johnson, and Johnson proved he could play end in a nickel heavy 4-3 back in 2017. That’s part of why he’s tough to replace.