Vols’ linebacker Keenan Pili discusses recovery process

Redshirt senior linebacker Keenan Pili announced he will return to Tennessee for a seventh collegiate season in 2024.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker appeared in one game for the Vols in 2023. He recorded four tackles and

played 29 plays in Tennessee’s victory over Virginia in the season opener. Due to an upper-body ailment, Pili was unable to play in the remaining 11 games of the regular season.

During his Monday media meeting, Pili spoke about his current physical state and his recuperation process.

He remarked, “I’ve been told a lot that I’m way ahead of schedule for where the track says I should be.” “I’m just trying to make sure I get fully healthy as I progress along the way, taking things day-by-day and realizing I’m not playing the bowl game.” I’m excited because I’m not really rushing anything and I’m growing stronger, coming back, and feeling better.


Four-star quarterback Jake Merklinger signs with Tennessee

Tennessee football has officially added its quarterback for the class of 2024, as Jake Merklinger signs with the Vols on Signing Day.

Tennesee football officially added its quarterback of its 2024 recruiting class on Wednesday morning, signing

four-star Calvary Day School student in Savannah, Georgia, Jake Merklinger. On March 30, Merklinger chose the Vols over his other top choices, Georgia, Michigan State, and North Carolina.

The industry-generated 247Sports Composite ranks Merklinger as the No. 129 overall prospect, No. 10 quarterback in the 2024 class, and No. 18 senior from the state of Georgia. Merklinger was one of the Vols’ top quarterback targets for months before they extended a scholarship offer in May of 2022. Additionally, 247Sports, which ranks him as the No. 221 overall athlete and No. 13 quarterback in the 2024 class, has given him a four-star prospect rating.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound gunslinger returned to Tennessee in November to see the Vols play host to top-ranked Georgia, attending his final game at Neyland Stadium as a recruit. He told GoVols247 recruiting analyst Ryan Callahan at the time that he enjoyed traveling to Knoxville, and that he was looking forward to getting an early start on his college career by participating in some of UT’s on-campus bowl practices this month before enrolling in January.

“I’m super excited to get up here,” Merklinger said. “It was really exciting to be back up here, see a crazy atmosphere and just get back to Knoxville. It was a tough game. That’s a good team. Talking to the coaches, I believe in them. I think they’ll bounce back and we’ll be good.”

Merklinger stated that he remains enthusiastic about the trajectory of Tennessee’s program and the opportunity to participate in the fast-moving offense of the Vols.

He declared, “I feel good about it.” Since my offense and this one are somewhat comparable, I believe that will be helpful to me when I arrive here. I’m just eager to arrive here. Their offensive has always been entertaining to watch, dynamic, and I believe they are really talented.

Prior to selecting a college this year, Merklinger said he “was stressed, but now I’m not.” He acknowledged that he is “coming to Tennessee,” adding that he has been concentrating on his Calvary Day team’s playoff run for the previous two weeks.

At Ellenwood, Georgia’s Cedar Grove High School, the Cavaliers suffered a 49-42 defeat on Friday night to conclude their season. In front of first-year tight ends coach Alec Abeln and Tennessee offensive coordinator Joey Halzle, Merklinger completed 21 of 29 throws for 275 yards and five touchdowns, as well as a 22-yard touchdown run with 4:16 left in the game, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Merklinger, Tennessee’s lone quarterback commitment in the 2024 recruiting class, has accepted an invitation to participate in the Polynesian Bowl in Honolulu on January 19.


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