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Tennessee LB coach William Inge to make Vols more versatile

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Depth has been a luxury that Tennessee’s football program has lacked in recent years. Such is the case when the Vols are rebuilding. However, there seems to be a change in the air.

Just take a look at Tennessee’s linebackers, according to first-year Tennessee coach William Inge, who the Vols tabbed to replace former linebacker Brian Jean-Mary in February.

“As we come out of the spring, we feel very good about our depth, and you know you will probably get some more guys coming back that didn’t have a chance to participate in the spring,” Inge said. “Now, when it comes to what you have to be able to do, the beauty of what we are doing now, and we tell the guys: you have no idea how much more learning you are going to experience from the end of the spring to the beginning of your game week. 

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“Everything that we have done, they are going to go through it again two more times, whether we go through our installs from a scheme standpoint or whether they go and actually get the rep in from a repetition standpoint, they are going to be able to do everything a couple more times.”

Or just once in a game would work, if that led to a big defensive play, which should become more commonplace given the Vols’ depth at linebacker. Middle linebacker Keenan Pili is expected to be a starter. After that, things get interesting with Arion Carter, Jeremiah Telander, Kalib Perry, Daevin Hobbs Jayson Jenkins and Elijah Herring all battling for snaps.

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Herring saw extensive time last season in relief of Pili, who suffered a season-ending injury in the Vols’ opening game last season, more was expected of Carter last season, but he was banged up throughout the fall.

Telander is an exciting prospect who is expected to see a larger role this fall. He played in all 13 games last season. 

“I feel very comfortable,” Telander said. “Of course, there are obviously going to be some mistakes, and that’s why we learn every day and come to meetings every day. We try not to make the same mistake twice.”

Telander isn’t the only highly anticipated Vol linebacker. Daevin Hobbs was one of coach Josh Heupel’s most coveted recruits when he signed with the Vols last year.
“I had a lot of work to do last year,” Hobbs said. “I got a couple reps in the games and in the rotation a little bit like you said. I just had to lock in on my playbook mostly. Some off-field stuff and nagging injuries and not staying locked in at some times, but for the most part I feel like I had a solid year. I could have done much better I feel like, but I can’t live in the past, so I have to keep moving forward.”
Perry enters his third season as a staple in special teams. Last season, the junior played in all 13 games on special teams and as a reserve linebacker while posting 20 tackles. Perry is now experiencing what life can be like with Inge, who is trying to tutor his students to be more well rounded.
“I would say the biggest thing is with Coach Inge, definitely just his terminology with how he explains things,” Perry said. “His biggest thing for him is having backers who can play dual backers, somewhat like what (Aaron) Beasley would do when he would hop over and play the Mike last year. 

“He tries to simplify the terms for us, so that way we can play either one, and also just being versatile, because you never know what could happen throughout the season.”

Versatility? Luxury? Sounds more like a sedan than the Vols defense as of late.

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