Out of two returning Vols freshmen, one is a huge boost
Martavius French and Isaac Washington suffered huge losses during their transfer. However, the two other Tennessee soccer players involved in an incident with them before spring practice began are now back.
According to Patrick Brown of GoVols247, quarterback Kaidon Salter and linebacker Aaron Willis have both been reinstated. These were two four stars from UT’s 2021 class that were fortunate enough to have an early impact so they missed all this spring because the suspension was a big deal.
Obviously, the arrival of Josh Heupel and the big run for Tennessee football quarterbacks make Salter’s comeback a big deal. The double-threat quarterback was set to compete with Harrison Bailey, Hendon Hooker and Brian Maurer in the spring. With him and Joe Milton now set to compete in the fall, this race could be fierce.
However, the bigger story here is the return of Willis. It’s no secret that the Vols had major issues with the linebacker. They lost Henry To’o To’o and Quavaris Crouch this offseason in the transfer portal to the Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan Wolverines respectively. JJ Peterson is still in the portal. Aaron Beasley is suspended indefinitely. As we mentioned, French is also in the portal.
Even the outside linebackers were transferred, as Deandre Johnson joined the Miami Hurricanes and Kivon Bennett, who was fired late last year, joined the Arkansas State Red Wolves. In other words, this unit is exhausted.
Heupel helped the situation by adding Texas Longhorns transfer Juwan Mitchell and Michigan Wolverines transfer William Mohan. However, even with the return to a 4-3 base that works more from nickel, more depth was needed.
As a result, the reinstatement of Willis is a huge deal. Coming from Baltimore, he’s a guy who should be able to make a huge impact on Tennessee football. At 5’11 “225 pounds, he’s already the right size to be a starting linebacker in the SEC, and he could be a perfect choice for new defensive coordinator Tim Banks system.
Put simply, Willis’ return is a much bigger boost for UT than Salter’s return, although Salter’s return is going to make more news given the position he plays. To be fair, however, both add a necessary item to the list.
Don’t count on Salter’s potential to change everything for Tennessee football, either. Heupel’s system depends on the success of his quarterbacks, and Salter has the potential to completely take over. Based on the depth chart, however, Willis’ return is the main boost.