When Josh Heupel brought in Tim Banks as defensive coordinator and he installed his nickel-heavy 4-3 base defense, conventional wisdom was that Tennessee football wouldn’t have the edge rusher position anymore that existed in Jeremy Pruitt’s 3-4 scheme. Well, Banks kept most of the principles the same, including that role.
UT added a key edge rusher last year, and he became their best player. The Vols have three deadly weapons returning at the position, and they’ve added two more, but the goal has been to build more depth there over the years so Banks has options with how he lines up his front seven.
Heupel has addressed that very issue for Tennessee football on the recruiting trail, and he may not be done. That’s part of why the Vols are on a roll. Let’s take a look at where they stand with edge rushers right now for their 2023 recruiting class and where they could be going with commitments, targets and the current roster.
Here’s a look at edge rushers in Josh Heupel and the Tennessee football Volunteers’ 2023 recruiting class.
Edge rushers on roster who will be out of eligibility 2023: None
This is a huge deal and speaks to why the Vols were so thin at the position this past year. They lost Kivon Bennett and Deandre Johnson to transfer from 2020, so Josh Heupel was immediately somewhat blindside. However, everybody on the team is going to be eligible again in 2023, meaning anybody Heupel added would finally address the depth.
Part of this is speculation, though, as there’s a great chance Byron Young leaves after this year. The NCAA’s COVID eligibility rules for 2020 not counting against players would allow him to return for 2023, but he is a senior, and he’ll likely have NFL scouts come calling.
Beyond that, though, Tennessee football is already set for a solid rotation at edge rusher for the future, and the Vols now have more players coming in, so Banks and Heupel will be able to go pretty deep at the position. Part of that is who has been added for this upcoming class. Let’s take a look at those players now.