Per On3’s Matt Zenitz, Tennessee linebacker Juwan Mitchell has entered the NCAA’s transfer portal.
Mitchell, who transferred to Knoxville from Texas after his junior season (2020), never quite made the impact Vol fans had hoped for.
He led the Longhorns in tackles in 2020, but a shoulder injury derailed his first season at Tennessee. He started his first career game as a Vol in Tennessee’s opener against Bowling Green in 2021 and then had seven tackles and a pass break up against Pittsburgh the following week.
He only played one more game in last in ‘21, against Florida and wasn’t a factor. But he earned a medical redshirt and, after the surgery and an offseason, there were once again expectations that he would start and contribute in 2022.
Mitchell played in 10 of the Vols’ 13 total games and logged more snaps at linebacker than any player not named Aaron Beasley or Jeremy Banks. He recorded 27 tackles and 18 assists, per Pro Football Focus, which ranked him third among Volunteer LBs behind Beasley’s 58 tackles and Banks’ 40.
None of the Tennessee linebackers graded out well is pass coverage according to PFF, but Mitchell’s 44.4 grade also ranked him third behind Beasley and Banks.
Mitchell’s interception against Kentucky was probably his biggest play of the season, with the assist going to Doneiko Slaughter for the hit on the would-be receiver.
Now, with neither Banks nor Mitchell returning for next season, Tennessee’s linebacker corps is surely to have a new look to it. Incoming BYU transfer Keenan Pili is sure to factor in, and I would imagine will-be sophomore Elijah Herring will see an increase in playing time, too. He was the only freshman LB on the team to log more than 100 snaps this season.
The Vols also have two 4-star incoming freshmen linebackers in Arion Carter and Jalen Smith, both of whom are expected to bring some much-needed athleticism to the LB room. Jeremiah Tealander, a 3-star prospect from Georgia, finishes out the Vols class of 2023 linebackers.
A reminder: just because Mitchell entered the portal doesn’t mean he can’t come back. I don’t know the ins and outs of the situation, so that option may already be internally off the table.