Tennessee has a chance to bounce back in the upcoming college football season, but they have a lot working against them. The Jeremy Pruitt era ended prematurely, and the Volunteers have one of the toughest schedules in college football. When you play LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama every season, you have a low ceiling. The rebuild for Tennessee will take some time, but the fanbase will always have high expectations. Tennessee is supposed to be competing in the SEC, and they will be one of the worst teams in the conference this season.
However, there is some good news in Knoxville. As their new era begins, they will have Juwan Mitchell as a transfer. He has two years of production under his belt with Texas, and he will be ready to play immediately. Tennessee lost all sorts of talent to the transfer portal, but they still have hopes of winning the division against all odds. They have +15000 odds to win the national championship, That may be a pipe dream, but how far can they go due to Juwan Mitchell?
What Juwan Mitchell Brings to the Table?
Juwan Mitchell saw a change in his style of play last season, and it hurt his production. In 2019, he was free to attack the passer, and it helped him get three sacks in nine games. He was also able to bat down passes, and he only had one deflection last season. However, Mitchell is leaving Texas for a reason. He wants a fresh start, and he needs one. He managed to start in 2020, but he had multiple targeting calls. He was the best against the run, but he was exposed multiple times during the season.
Juwan Mitchell also played at a junior college, so this will be his third college football team. This may be a red flag, but it will help Mitchell adapt quickly to a new system. Everyone in Tennessee will be looking to thrive with a new coach, but Mitchell knows what it takes to pivot in one offseason. Mitchell clearly brings plenty to the table, but is that enough for Tennessee football?
The Bad News for Tennessee
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. At the end of the day, Tennessee is still Tennessee. The Volunteers failed with solid recruiting classes and a coach from the Saban tree. Most of the team entered the transfer portal, and they won’t be getting any great recruits anytime soon. Pairing this with a new head coach makes it hard to expect much in 2021. Also, Mitchell is just an inside linebacker. If he were a Heisman contender at quarterback, he could maybe impact their record. However, he can only bring credibility to a lackluster defense.
Tennessee had a great inside linebacker in Henry To’o To’o, but he will play for Alabama after transferring. That minimizes the potential impact that Mitchell can have. Even if he lives up to the hype, he will be a downgrade from To’o To’o. All of this is working against the Tennessee Volunteers. Still, they valued Mitchell as a transfer, so he can still bring value to an inexperienced roster. So, how much can he truly help the Tennessee Volunteers as an inside linebacker?
How Much Can Mitchell Help?
Mitchell will add experience at a crucial position. The inside linebacker is in charge of making sure everyone is in position. This means Mitchell will be able to command the defense after two seasons with the Texas Longhorns. The experience and credibility help, but that won’t mean much. Mitchell is still a downgrade from To’o To’o. He will be good in the run game, but he won’t be able to do much in coverage.
Against teams like Georgia and Alabama, they won’t be able to stop tight ends in the middle of the field. If the Volunteers didn’t have Mitchell, they would be in worse trouble this season. Still, they are a bottom team with him. He can lead the team in tackles, but the Volunteers will be underdogs in many SEC games this season. Don’t change your predictions for Tennessee because of one inside linebacker