Jeremy Banks began his Tennessee career as a running back last season, but after fumbling the ball away several times in the first few games of the season, he asked to be moved to linebacker. Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt obliged, and Banks practiced at linebacker for a few weeks after the Georgia game before moving back to running back due to depth concerns.
This spring, Banks remained at running back, and he practiced throughout the entirety of fall camp at that position. But on Thursday, Banks was back at linebacker once again.
RTI staff writer Ben McKee was at Tennessee’s Thursday practice session, and he observed that Banks was practicing with the Vols’ inside linebacker group. Banks had been held out for part of fall camp due to a minor injury, but he had been exclusively with the running backs all throughout August. Thursday’s move is the first time he’s been seen with the linebackers since October of last year.
Practice No. 18 for the #Vols is inside.
Sophomore Jeremy Banks is working with the inside linebackers it appears. pic.twitter.com/kFg2Hp7s9y
— Ben McKee (@benmckee14) August 22, 2019
It’s possible that Banks was just practicing with the linebackers due to a lack of numbers at the position. Pruitt said earlier this week that the main reason he moved freshman safety Aaron Beasley over to the inside linebacker group for practice was because the Vols’ linebacker group was low on bodies. Daniel Bituli was being held out as a precaution with some minor ailments, and Pruitt stated that a “bug” had hit the group and was keeping some players from going full strength.
Banks’ move to the linebacker group could just be temporary and a way to address a lack of numbers. Or, his move could be a permanent one.
According to Pruitt last season, Banks himself asked to be moved to defense rather than staying at running back. That’s why when Banks was moved back to running back, it seemed like an odd choice from an outsider’s perspective.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound sophomore from Cordova, TN has never appeared in a game at the linebacker spot, but he did register a few tackles on special teams against Alabama and Charlotte last season.
As a true freshman, Banks ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns on 52 carries while adding a reception for 10 yards. He also totaled three tackles on special teams.
If Banks’ move to linebacker is indeed permanent, that will leave the Vols with four scholarship running backs on the roster in 2019. Juniors Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan are the expected starters, and true freshman Eric Gray looks like the change-of-pace back to those two. Senior Carlin Fils-aime had been absent from practice for a while, but he returned to the field during Wednesday’s practice.
Should Banks stay at linebacker, he will give the Vols 13 scholarship linebackers in the group. The players who have been practicing with the inside linebacker group the most have been Daniel Bituli, Will Ignont, Shanon Reid, Henry To’oto’o, Solon Page III, and J.J. Peterson. Quavaris Crouch worked at inside linebacker in the spring, but he’s been working with the outside linebackers during fall camp.