Tennessee got a big boost on Tuesday, learning that senior linebacker Keenan Pili would be returning for one more season. Pili, who transferred in from BYU last offseason, was injured in the first game of the season against Virginia. He was not able to return, but now he gets another chance.
Tennessee senior linebacker Keenan Pili is expected to return to the Vols for another season instead of heading to the NFL, sources tell @247sports.— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) December 5, 2023
Pili, a former BYU transfer, missed most of the year due to injury. Was a two-time team captain at BYU.https://t.co/O5dxjyk2jo pic.twitter.com/UpGW502Uzp
Tennessee’s linebacker depth was hurting by the end of the year. Not only did the Vols lose Pili, but they lost standout freshman Arion Carter too. The issue at linebacker was obvious against Missouri and Georgia.
“Keenan’s not ready to go in this one,” Heupel said last month ahead of the UConn matchup. “So we’ll continue to monitor his progress and his ability to get back on the field here late in the year. Keenan’s got a lot of good football ahead of him. He’ll have to make a decision on what’s best for him and his family.”
Decision made — he’s coming back.
Now with Pili returning, Tennessee has a veteran leading the way in the linebacker room. Carter will be back, along with Elijah Herring and Jeremiah Telander. Prospects Edwin Spillman and Jordan Burns will also join the depth chart.
Back in 2022, Pili was credited with 62 tackles for BYU. The 6-3, 240 pound senior had four tackles in the season opener against Virginia before going down with an injury.