Tennessee freshman LB to redshirt; another makes debut

One of Tennessee’s true freshman linebackers made his debut for the Vols on Saturday during their win over Florida and could see his role expand before the end of the season.

Their other freshman at the position appears unlikely to play this year.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Wednesday that freshman linebacker Ja’Quain Blakely is on track “to be redshirted” this season, while fellow newcomer Daniel Bituli played in the Vols’ goal-line package in their 38-28 win over the Gators and has “a bright, bright future.”

“I’m really excited about both,” Jones said during his weekly Wednesday press conference. “Daniel Bituli played as a true freshman last week – played in our goal-line package – and his role will continue to increase at the linebacker position and on special teams. I’m really excited about him.

“I think he’s got a bright, bright future. Very, very intelligent, very physical, can run, so we’re encouraged and I’m ecstatic about him.”

Jones said Blakely, a former three-star prospect from Moultrie, Ga., “has done a good job” but isn’t in line to see the field this season. Jones said Tennessee has the “luxury” of moving Blakely around this year to “find a natural home for him,” adding that the Vols could try him at Sam linebacker and defensive end.

“Jay Blakely has done a good job, as well. Right now, he’s on task to be redshirted, and we’re looking at a number of positions for him – particularly, maybe even a Sam linebacker to a defensive end – so right now we that luxury, with redshirting him, to be able to move him around and kind of find a natural home for him,” Jones said.

“But I’ve been encouraged by both individuals.”

Bituli, a former Top247 prospect from Nashville (Tenn.) Christian School, made the first tackle of his college career Saturday during his debut against Florida.

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