Linebacker is a position of strength for Tennessee entering 2023.

The Vols saw good play from Aaron Beasley and Jeremy Banks last season, but the addition of BYU transfer Keenan Pili seems to be paying off heading into the first game of the season.

Both Pili and Beasley were named starters for Saturday’s matchup against the Cavaliers, with Beasley covering the weakside position with Pili starting in the middle.

On Tuesday, linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary explained what set those 2 apart and spoke some to the depth of the position heading into Year 3 of the Josh Heupel era.

He started by saying what most already knew: Beasley and Pili separated themselves early and earned every bit of their respective spots.

Beasley is self-explanatory. He might have been the best defender on the team last season. But Pili was not guaranteed a role transferring into Jean-Mary and DC Tim Banks’ new system from Provo.

Jean-Mary later spoke on freshman LB Arion Carter, who has been garnering buzz as a potential playmaker for the Vols out of camp.

Here’s what he had to say about the former 4-star prospect.

It’s worth noting that Banks has told reporters that Carter will play “a ton” for Tennessee this upcoming season, a fairly rare circumstance for a freshman in the SEC.

Tennessee opens its season in Nashville on Saturday against Virginia. The game will kick at Noon eastern and will be aired on ABC.

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Tennessee sports betting officially launched on November 1, 2020. Tennessee was the first SEC state to legalize sports betting.