Tennessee announced on Wednesday which three players will join head coach Jeremy Pruitt down in Hoover, Alabama for the 2019 SEC Media Days. And, no surprise, there’s a strong defensive flavor to the group of players.
Redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, redshirt senior linebacker Darrell Taylor, and senior linebacker Daniel Bituli will be the Vols’ three player representatives at this year’s SEC Media Days. Tennessee’s players and Jeremy Pruitt will speak with the media on Tuesday after Georgia and Ole Miss have the floor.
Choosing Guarantano comes as no surprise after he was the full-time starter at quarterback for the Vols in 2018. He’ll be the unquestioned starter for UT under center in 2019 as well barring any significant injuries.
As Tennessee’s starter last year, Guarantano featured the lowest interception rate in the SEC and threw the fewest interceptions among qualifying quarterbacks in the conference. He finished his redshirt sophomore season completing 62.2 percent of his 246 pass attempts for 1,907 yards, 12 touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Last season, Darrell Taylor had a breakout campaign as an outside linebacker for UT. Though inconsistent, Taylor had some monster performances against SEC foes. He totaled three sacks and two forced fumbles against Georgia and then tied a school record for most sacks in a single game when he amassed four against Kentucky in the Vols’ upset victory over the Wildcats. Taylor started nine games and appeared in all 12 for the Vols last season.
As a redshirt junior, Taylor totaled 36 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
Daniel Bituli enters his third season as a full-time starter for the Vols at linebacker. He’s appeared in all 24 of Tennessee’s games the last two seasons and has made a combined 18 starts in those 24 games. He led the Vols in total tackles for a second-straight season last year with 79 total stops. He also improved his disruptiveness, earning his first career sack and doubling his career-high of tackles for loss in a season.
As a junior, Bitilu had 79 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and a pass defended. In 33 total games at Tennessee, Bitilu has amassed 178 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, a sack, an interception he returned for a touchdown, four passes defended, and a forced fumble.
SEC Media Days will begin on Monday, July 15th in Hoover, Alabama. As stated above, Tennessee will have the floor on Tuesday. You can see the full schedule for the 2019 SEC Media Days here.