Tennessee Linebacker Named To Butkus Award Preseason Watch List

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    Tennessee linebacker Jeremy Banks was named to the Butkus Award Preseason Watch List on Monday afternoon. Named after legendary Illinois linebacker Dick Butkus, the award honors the nation’s top linebacker every season.

    Banks is one of 12 SEC linebackers on the 51-member watch list after a breakout 2021 season.

    The Memphis native tallied 128 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and tied for the team-lead with 5.5 sacks — an impressive mark for a linebacker.

    Entering his redshirt junior season, Banks had just 38 career tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and no sacks. Banks spent his first season in Knoxville playing running back before changing to the defensive side of the ball.

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    Banks has been well represented in preseason honors, landing on the Preseason All-SEC Second Team and the Lott Trophy Watch List— awarded annually to the nation’s best defensive player.

    No Tennessee player has ever won the Butkus Award with Keith DeLong (1988) and Raynoch Thompson (1999) being the Vols’ lone finalists.

    Tennessee kicks off its 2022 football season on Thursday, Sept. 1 against Ball State. Banks got off to a slow start in the Vols’ 2021 season opener before ending the season with a 20 tackle performance in the Music City Bowl.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.