Tennessee Vols: Predictions For 2017 Season; Who Will Be UT’s MVP?

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 26: Micah Abernathy
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 26: Micah Abernathy /
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Who Will Be Tennessee’s Defensive MVP?

With Derek Barnett, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and Cam Sutton gone, the Vols will need to rely on some different faces to be the leaders of the defense.

Fortunately for the Vols, they have several tremendous options. Senior safety Todd Kelly will certainly be a leader on defense for Tennessee. And linebacker Darin Kirkland Jr, if healthy, will be the “captain” of the defense.

But who will be the real star of the defense?

Again, two names come to mind — defensive end Jonathan Kongbo and safety Nigel Warrior.

Warrior’s role isn’t as clearly defined as Kongbo’s is (the latter is an undisputed starter), but his talent suggests he could be a key part of Tennessee’s defense in 2017.

The Vols have a bit of a logjam at the safety position — both Todd Kelly and Micah Abernathy could be considered above Warrior on the depth chart. However, I don’t think there’s any way Tennessee can keep Warrior off the field. The Georgia native has received constant praise throughout the spring and summer. Defensive backs coach Charlton Warren has raved about Warrior’s ability to be a leader on defense. He definitely has the look of a breakout player in 2017.

But is it enough to be the Volunteers’ defensive MVP this season?

Maybe, but I doubt it’s enough to overtake Kongbo.

Butch Jones recently said that Kongbo’s had one of the best off-seasons of anyone on the team. Jones also pointed out Kongbo’s passion and energy as exceptional.

Tennessee will have to play with passion in 2017. And it seems like Kongbo could be the emotional leader of the defense, as well as the MVP of the defense.