KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Confidence remains the key for Tennessee linebacker Colton Jumper as he enters his senior season.
Jumper came to the Vols as a 2-star recruit from Baylor High School in Chattanooga, Tenn., and he has become one of the most versatile linebackers on the team.
The 6-foot-2, 229-pound linebacker has played all three linebacker positions over the years.
“I’ve really played everything,” Jumper said after practice on Tuesday. “Right now, I’m at Mike [linebacker] and maybe later on in the season there will be voids. It’s the usual, but the spots are still open; nothing is really settled right now.”
Jumper played in every game in 2016 and started seven games, including six at the middle linebacker. The starts came from filling in for the injured Darrin Kirkland Jr.
Jumper finished fourth on the team in tackles with 61, with 4 for a loss and an interception.
Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said earlier in fall camp he considered Jumper “a one” on the defense because of the confidence he gained starting last season.
“I love when a coach talks highly of you,” Jumper said. “That’s someone that you’re around a lot and that’s a very high compliment. I’ve always viewed myself as a one, that’s just kind of the confidence that I’ve always carried myself with.
“I’m a lot more confident. I’ve gotten more playing time and I’ve gotten more reps. That definitely adds to your confidence level.”
Jumper said the linebacker rotation is still fluid and he likes the group the Vols’ coaching staff has assembled.
“We have a lighter linebacker group but a lot more speed,” Jumper said. “I think in today’s game that is something you need a lot.”
Jumper joined a number of others who have praised freshman Will Ignont’s play through the beginning of camp.
“Will Ignont is a young guy who is doing really well,” Jumper said. “He’s got everyone’s attention.”