3. Lack of experience at middle linebacker
There’s certainly some talent and potential that will be competing at middle linebacker in fall camp. Dillon Bates, Jakob Johnson, Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Gavin Bryant all have upside, and the more dependable, but less flashy, Kenny Bynum is a strong contender who is getting first-team reps right now as well.
But “the guy” hasn’t emerged at that spot yet, and that’ll be a work in progress throughout fall camp as the Vols look to replace A.J. Johnson’s presence inside. It’s no secret that the position fell off substantially after Johnson was suspended near the end of 2014
This middle linebacker has a lot of communication and alignment responsibilities as well, so the Vols will need to find a starter capable of handling all of that to maximize the effectiveness of the defense.