Tennessee was put in a pretty bad spot this spring following the exit of Henry To’o To’o and Quavaris Crouch. The linebacker room was left without a leader and without depth, presenting Josh Heupel’s defensive staff with quite the issue. They got through the spring with just a handful of scholarship players available, knowing that they would have to attack the transfer portal soon.
That happened directly after the spring period, as the Volunteers landed William Mohan and Juwan Mitchell. With Mitchell, Tennessee added a guy with two years worth of starting experience at Texas — a guy that can step in and lead in a key spot of the defense.
He’s clearly made a big impact throughout the summer months and in fall camp.
“You could just tell from his demeanor as he walks around the building what kind of guy he is,” defensive end Roman Harrison said. “He’s a dog. He’s a straight dog. I love the way he plays. He plays fast, plays aggressive and plays smart as well. It’s going to be really fun seeing what he does on Saturdays.”
Mitchell is a former JUCO product that spent two seasons in Austin. Now a senior, Mitchell brings experience and athleticism into the teeth of the Tennessee defense. He’s expected to start, topping a depth chart that consists of Jeremy Banks, Morven Joseph, Aaron Beasley, Kwauze Garland, Solon Page and William Mohan.
He joins a familiar defensive system, as Texas also ran a 4-2-5 base last season. After missing spring practice, the hope is that Mitchell is familiar enough to be fully up to speed by the opener.
Mitchell spoke with the media after practice last week, where he painted a picture of his routine last year at Texas.
“I found a routine that really helped me,” Mitchell said last week. “Monday through Wednesday I’d have my coach pick me up at 5:45 and I’d be with the defensive staff breaking down film. Pretty much finding out the why they’re calling calls. It’s not just going along with the calls so I’m sitting in the meeting understanding why they’re calling that call in different situations. That helped a lot.”
If I had to guess, Mitchell has probably been doing more of the same in Knoxville. The Tennessee defense is expected to be a weakness, but Mitchell should provide some stability this fall.
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