Skip to main content

Former BYU linebacker Keenan Pili explains transfer to Tennessee

On3-Social-Profile_GRAYby:On3 Staff Report04/04/23

The NCAA transfer portal has become a must-use tool for programs looking to keep their roster patched in various areas, and Tennessee saw a specific need on defense and brought in a handful of transfers including BYU‘s Keenan Pili.

With spring practice now well underway, Pili has begun to get comfortable with his new teammates.

He’s a potentially very significant addition for the Volunteers based on his sheer level of experience and knowledge. He talked about what went into his transfer last week.

“Yeah it was my last year. BYU was making some changes on the D staff too, but I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to transfer and come to a place like Tennessee,” Pili said. “It’s what I fell in love with. I think I got what I was wanting out of my last year to be, and I’m excited for the future.”

To already know Tennessee can offer what he thought it could when he transferred is certainly a good sign. Transfers don’t always go so smoothly.

And the former BYU linebacker who was a team captain has plenty of production to back him up, engendering the support of his teammates and coaches.

In four years at BYU, Keenan Pili piled up 190 tackles, 11.0 tackles for a loss, 3.0 sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and four pass breakups. He’s already impressed some of the defensive coaches.

“As far as KP goes, I actually love this kid,” Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks said. “He’s just a guy that’s great to be around, just the way he carries himself as a young man. But then obviously when you get him on the field you understand why he’s played so many games.”

As far as how he can help the Volunteers, Pili isn’t setting many boundaries.

Tennessee has a lot to improve defensively, too. While the team’s defensive front was fairly stout, the back end often struggled as opponents went to work trying to keep up with Hendon Hooker and the UT offense.

The linebackers will have to play a role in helping stop the underneath passing.

For his part, though, Pili is good with any way he can contribute to the overall team effort in 2023. He wants his final season to be a memorable one.

“Whatever they need me to do,” Keenan Pili said. “A lot of people talk about my age, I’m the old man on the team. It’s kind of a funny joke, but if I can bring any type of leadership or experience in any way, that’s what I hope to do. Other than that I hope my play just speaks for myself and that I can give energy and effort each day for the boys around me.”