The Tennessee football team hopes to return to the lead soon and not later under the leadership of the second year coach Josh Hubble and his staff.
As important as the coaching staff is to the football program, players ultimately have to make games on the field — or get ripped off in the process.
It is often said that a player’s greatest improvement comes between his first and second year on campus. A full year of experience on campus, whether red or contributing player, tends to make most players more comfortable with their surroundings and more willing to help their team.
With those previous few paragraphs in mind, GoVols247’s 12th Annual Surge series will examine the Tennessee group of year two scholarship players, analyzing reasons for optimism and hesitation about the immediate and long-term future of every player in the Heupel era.
The Vols need a massive improvement from players in their 2021 signature class if they hope to continue climbing to their traditional spot near the top of the Southeastern Conference.
Will that happen?
Let’s start that conversation now.
The increase in the second year continues with a look at the back of the second year William “Apache” Mohan.
Size: 6 feet and 210 pounds
Hometown / Previous School: Brooklyn, New York / Erasmus Hall HS, University of Michigan
Hiring order: Number 461 is a general probability in the nation according to the 247Sports Synthetic Complex. Number 23 athlete in the nation according to 247Sports Composite, number 45 sports prospect in the nation according to 247Sports. No. 3 in overall predictions in New York according to 247Sports Composite, No. 5 in New York according to 247Sports.
2021 stats: 12 matches, 0 starts; 9 vents pieces, 6 singles pieces, 3 assisted interventions.
Powers show: Mohan hasn’t had much of an impact on this point in his Tennessee career, but he has a way of showing enough flashes of potential to continue to pique your interest. He’s a bit undersized for a center back, even by modern standards, but he’s continued to do what he can to build more muscle on this tire, and he can really, really, run for the player in his position. He moves fast and hits hard, and he showed that multiple times on special teams and twice in defense during his first season with the Vols. People often think of size when they think of big hitters, but that’s only half of the equation. Force equals mass multiplied by acceleration, right? Acceleration is important. The Mohan is aggressive and fast, and that acceleration beyond 210 pounds or more creates plenty of power. He will leave an imprint on you, which is never a bad trait for a quarterback. Mohan is also the winner. He was a driving force behind back-to-back Erasmus Hall Public Schools Athletics Championships in New York City in 2018 (11-1) and 2019 (11-2), when the aggregate went 22-3. He hasn’t won a title since 2012 before his junior season, then bounced back. He led the league with 13 sacks in each of those two seasons, and played all over the field. Mohan’s lone season in Michigan was a strange one—as it was for everyone (we hope) at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic—but his first season in Tennessee ended with the proud Vols taking an important step forward. Is it all a coincidence? Probably. And it’s not as if Mohan had a huge impact on the Vols last season. But things tend to improve for the teams when he gets there. So there is this.
Required step: Football coaches, in general, have come a long way in recent years when it comes to finding ways to take advantage of strengths and avoid the weaknesses of “tweeners”. They are getting more creative in finding ways to use players who used to be square pegs in a game full of round holes. Mohan, however, is still a square peg that needs a square hole. He’s not big enough to be a full-time player or a cap-and-roll player inside the line-back, and he’s not fast enough to play safe. He’s a talented soccer player, which is why several Power 5 programs recruited him and offered him scholarships when he was in high school and then again when he was in the gate, but scaling him up wasn’t the easiest process. He’s a very influential player on special teams, but this spring has been a fantastic opportunity for him to take a step forward as a full-back, and he didn’t seem to make his mark on the surface. He still has plenty of time to develop, but finding a role for him in defense remains a process. Mohan may seem like a decent option for speeding passers-by in loose situations, and there’s always room for such in your game plan, but ideally an athlete like Mohan will find a way to make a bigger impact. This is never a given, though.
SYNOPSIS (TL;DR): Mohan is already a very good player in the special teams, and he probably has the potential to become an elite in that third area of the game. If special teams are the pinnacle of his career, he will be more than deserving of his scholarship. NFL teams only wear 46 players for games, and they even have special dynamic teams, so a team with up to 85 players for scholarships and can wear at least 60 players per game has enough room for players like that. Mohan and Tennessee’s goal, of course, is to become more than that. This is what everyone hopes and works towards on a daily basis. When you match Mohan flying all over the field and popping people, it’s easy to get excited about what he could do as a defensive player. But that hasn’t happened yet, and for now he’s still a 6-foot-1, 210-pound quarterback – at least based on his current weight on the official roster, which can be changed at the start of pre-season camp. Even at this age, it can be hard to find a permanent spot for a ‘tweener’ like that. As a sophomore of the Redshirt, Mohan has plenty of time to continue working toward a place in Tim Banks and Brian Jean-Mary’s plans on the defensive side of the ball. And again, he’s already a very good special squad player and can become a real squad maker in that crucial area of the game, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.