Tennessee’s pass-rush remains a work in progress heading into the 2020 season, and the Vols are pushing one of their top returners at outside linebacker to take his game to the next level. Kivon Bennett enjoyed a bit of a breakout season in 2019, emerging as one of Tennessee’s most dependable edge rushers opposite of eventual second-round NFL Draft pick Darrell Taylor. With Taylor now gone, Tennessee is pushing Bennett to become more consistent and realize his potential as one of the SEC’s top pass rushers.

The son of former Alabama All-American Cornelius “Biscuit” Bennett began his Tennessee career as a defensive lineman before moving to outside linebacker during his sophomore season in 2018, when he played in four games to earn the redshirt he had burned by the previous coaching staff the previous season.

Bennett slimmed down more than 25 pounds as part of his position switch, and last season he showed noticeable improvement while racking up 27 tackles and two sacks and finishing with a team-best nine quarterback hurries and six tackles for loss, tied for the second most on the team.

“The biggest thing that I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is his maturity with the details,” LB Coach Shelton Felton said during a media session on Zoom earlier this month. “He’s more locked in and focused. He’s a natural pass-rusher. He can be one of the best pass-rushers in the conference, once he locks himself in and focuses and can be consistent day in and day out.

“He’s starting to develop into a leader in our room, a leader on this team, and I think the sky’s the limit for him. We need him. With this 10-game schedule in the SEC, we need him to perform every game, day in and day out.”

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