Pruitt: Jeremy Banks Could “Possibly” Play at LB vs. South Carolina

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    Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

    Tennessee’s Tuesday practice drew the attention of Vol fans everywhere because of a position change that happened during it. Freshman running back Jeremy Banks had shown a lot of promise at tailback for Tennessee, but he had also fumbled the ball far too many times. In five appearances on offense this year, Banks had three fumbles (two of which were recovered by the opponent).

    Those fumbling issues and Banks’ tenacity when covering kick-offs on special teams prompted the coaching staff to give him a look at linebacker. And on Tuesday, banks practiced at linebacker and even received some one-on-one attention from head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

    Pruitt was asked about moving Banks to linebacker during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference, and he said that even though the move only happened this week, there’s a chance Banks makes his debut on the defensive side of the ball this weekend when Tennessee travels to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks.

    “I think the guy could possibly play this week,” Pruitt said on the teleconference. “He’s a smart guy, he’s instinctive, and we’re very simple on defense. So he’ll practice again (at linebacker) the next couple days and we’ll just kind of see as the weekend gets here.”

    Banks played primarily at running back in high school and practiced and played as a running back during his first few months at Tennessee as well. He’s never played full-time at linebacker as a football player, but the move could provide Banks, who’s flashed his potential and physicality multiple times already, more opportunity for playing time.

    “I think it, you know, gives us a chance to get our best players on the field,” Pruitt said of the decision to move Banks to linebacker. “Gives him an opportunity to possibly contribute a little more. You know, he’s had a little bit of a problem holding onto the football. He has a lot of energy. He’s a tough guy. It’s tough to move during the season, but I think it’s something, down the road, that we’ll be glad we did.”

    At 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, Banks already has the frame to fit in as a linebacker in the SEC. With another year in the weight room, he should be able to fill out and contribute more if he does, indeed, stay at linebacker.

    Tennessee’s coaching staff has shown already that they aren’t afraid to experiment with position switches in their short time at UT. Alontae Taylor came in expecting to play wide receiver for the Vols this season as a freshman and even practiced with the offense for the first couple weeks of spring practice. But then Pruitt moved him to cornerback midway through the spring, and now he’s started almost every game for Tennessee at corner.

    Kingston Harris made a move to the offensive line during this season after practicing at defensive tackle for all of the fall, and Ja’Quain Blakely has moved from tight end/fullback to the defensive side of the ball mid-season as well. Freshman J.J. Peterson has moved from inside linebacker to outside linebacker recently too.

    In five appearances this season, Jeremy Banks has totaled 41 carries for 161 yards and three touchdowns while also adding a catch for 10 yards. His three touchdowns are tied with Madre London for the most rushing scores on the team. He also recorded a tackle on special teams against Alabama last weekend.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.