May 25, 2024
When Keenan Pili joined Tennessee football, he was sort of carrying a secret—the BYU transfer linebacker only had two years left on his contract.With plans to play one season as his final college football season with the Vols, the seasoned linebacker kept that information mostly to himself. Then it was helpful when Pili had the chance to return after suffering an arm injury that ended the season.

“I wasn’t planning on being here another year but excited to be part of that,” Pili said on Monday. “Just to return and complete the task I set out to begin—having a successful year at Tennessee. That would be incredible.

Using the extra year of eligibility he was granted because of a season-ending knee injury he sustained at BYU in 2021, Pili announced on December 8 that he would be returning to Tennessee in 2024. He’ll play two seasons of collegiate football at UT and a seventh overall.

The Reason Behind Keenan Pili made the decision to rejoin Tennessee football.
In his first game as a Vol, Pili hurt his triceps against Virginia on September 2 in Nashville. It wasn’t a difficult decision, but he didn’t start talking about coming back until much later in the season.

“I think it was very simple to say, ‘Man, I’d love to come back,’ after diving into Tennessee and this program. Who wouldn’t want to spend an additional year here? stated Pili. “I believe that was largely due to my desire to return rather than go.”

Before moving to UT, Pili spent five seasons at BYU. Before serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Orlando, Florida, from 2017 to 2019, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Pili redshirted as a freshman in 2016. After spending four seasons playing for BYU, he came back, only to have his ACL torn early in the 2021 campaign.

For this reason, Pili knew he had another season left if he got hurt at Tennessee. Despite suffering two season-ending injuries, he claimed that obtaining a waiver for his seventh season wasn’t difficult.

How Keenan Pili is healing from an injury to his triceps
During Tennessee’s victory over Virginia in the first quarter, Pili became aware of his injury. Despite his limited arm movement in the third quarter, he continued to play.

After the game, Pili said, “I knew the injury was bad.” “I felt a little depressed over that.”

Josh Heupel, the coach, expressed optimism about Pili’s late-season comeback. That did not occur, and Pili will not participate in the Citrus Bowl on January 1 (1 p.m. ET, ABC) in Orlando, Florida, when the No. 21 Vols (8-4) take on No. 17 Iowa (10-3).

A HOMECOMING: Braylon Harmon, a wide receiver from Knoxville Catholic, commits to Tennessee football as a preferred walk-on

Pili stated that he is recovering more quickly than expected and is aiming to be fully recovered for the upcoming season. He acknowledged that his wife had been a tremendous support system during the procedure and the healing period.

Pili is anticipated to play inside linebacker for UT starting in the upcoming season, just as he did before getting hurt this year. After stepping in, Elijah Herring, who had 75 tackles, will probably play next to him. In his 36 career games, Pili has made 25 starts. At BYU, Pili totaled 190 tackles, including three sacks and 11 tackles for loss. In 2022, he recorded 62 tackles and five tackles for loss.

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