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Brian Jean-Mary shares needed growth for Tennessee linebackers

On3 imageby:Dan Morrison04/07/23

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In 2022, Tennessee had a lot of experience at the linebacker position. Now, it’s a position of youth and linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary knows that the unit needs to grow and develop this spring.

While speaking to the media, Jean-Mary spoke about some of the things he’d like to see Tennessee’s linebackers improve at.

“There’s always things that you can get better at,” Brian Jean-Mary said. “I felt like, run game wise, I felt like we did a better job of being plug and play guys and we were able to be a little bit more efficient versus the run because tackled better one and secondly we were able to play off of the d-line in the secondary where we were able to build a good run wall. We need that to continue and go to another level.”

However, Brian Jean-Mary still isn’t happy with how the linebackers are playing in the passing game.

“But we have to make more plays in the passing game. Didn’t feel like we did a good enough job as blitzers affecting the pass and we didn’t do a good enough job in underneath coverage when we were in zone coverage with the secondary,” Jean-Mary said.

“So, that’s a really big point of emphasis for us to take it to the next level in the linebacker room.”

For his part, Josh Heupel seems happy with how the Tennessee linebackers have played to this point in the spring.

“They’re relentless, they play with energy and passion,” Heupel said.

“We’ve done a good job of tackling in some of the small space, but also in the open field. That group’s got a lot of leadership traits.”

Keenan Pili praised Tennessee’s young linebackers

Bringing in BYU transfer Keenan Pili was one of the ways that Tennessee tried to address its linebackers this offseason. However, Pili is already incredibly impressed with what he’s been seeing from the Volunteers’ young linebackers to this point.

“Man, these young guys are great,” Pili said.

“I think guys like Arion [Carter] stick out and you’ve got Jalen [Smith]Jeremiah [Telander]. Great athletes. Ben BoltonWill [Albright]. They’re young but they’re really athletic and they’re going to make some noise here in the future, for sure.”

Even Heupel got in on praising these young players, saying, “I like how the young guys have kind of grown and fit into the culture. Got to have them continue to grow here as we go through spring ball, but excited about that group.”