Bituli, Sapp Encouraged by Competition at Linebacker

Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee football team took Shields-Watkins Field at Neyland Stadium for the first time during fall camp on Sunday, partaking in UT’s annual Fan Day.

The team was welcomed by several thousand fans, eager for an early look at the Jeremy Pruitt era. Following practice, Tennessee coaches and players will participate in an autograph session.

Each entering their junior seasons at Tennessee, linebackers Quart’e Sapp and Daniel Bituli will look to take on larger leadership roles.

Bituli and Sapp tallied 90 and 78 tackles in 2017, ranking first and fourth on team in that category, respectively.

“A lot of guys on this team take a lot of pride in Tennessee, so we’re just holding each other accountable,” Bituli said. “If I’m ever down there not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, they’ll do the same to me. That’s what we expect from each other.”

With the shift in defensive scheme, the duo that combined for 16 starts last fall will be called upon to lead the positional group through changes in the system. The linebacking corp will also get a boost from the return of Darrin Kirkland Jr., who missed the 2017 season due to injury, and add the services of Darrell Taylor and Jonathan Kongbo by way of position change.

“We’re a little more comfortable [in the system] because, obviously, we’ve prepared and changed the defense and are putting finishing touches rather than it being all new, so it’s a little bit more preparation,” Sapp said. “We know what’s about to happen.

“There’s definitely more confidence because we know what we’re doing. There’s more stuff that we’re putting in, more detail, more tedious things that we’re focusing on instead of just the overall picture of the defense .”

Added Bituli: “I love football, so the transition has been hard, but I’m enjoying every second of it. I played 3-4 in high school so I’m kind of familiar with the whole defensive scheme, but regarding football, I’m a football player, I’m here to play football and earn my education. I love the sport, so going in and being able to watch more film and stuff, those are all things I enjoy doing and things I don’t take for granted.”

 

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