Josh Heupel and Tennessee football smashed expectations in 2022 and nearly found themselves in the College Football Playoff if not for an injury to Hendon Hooker.
The Volunteers were able to upset Alabama and finish the regular season 10-2, adding an 11th win during bowl season against Clemson. This team is going to flirt with the top-10 range to begin the 2023 season and for them to meet expectations, some guys need to step up.
These three second-year players would be a good start.
Elijah Herring wasn’t exactly one of the highest-ranked prospects in Tennessee’s 2022 recruiting class, but that didn’t much matter during his freshman season when he finished with 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and a pass breakup. He was productive in limited action.
But I expect him to see the field much more in year two.
Keenan Pili comes in as a transfer linebacker so there’s going to be come competition there on the outside, but I expect Herring to at least make the two-deep and see the field extensively.
Jeremy Banks is gone after finishing fifth on the team in total tackles and someone is going to have to step up at linebacker.
I think that’ll be Herring.