KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s offensive line has been a work in progress, and that’s the good news.
New Vols offensive line coach Will Friend has pushed and pulled this unit along impressively, and despite having to flip some defensive players over to offense to have enough players for practice.
The results were shocking at the Orange and White Game. Friend’s retooled offensive line dominated the Vols’ first team defense in a 34-7 win.
The offense’s surprising performance frustrated defensive-minded coach Jeremy Pruitt to the point he said some defensive players “flat-out quit.”
The offensive line, many would agree, showed more improvement than any other Tennessee position group.
Pruitt has suggested it’s only going to get better. The Vols have worked toward adding graduate transfers, some perhaps still in the works, while others are expected to return from injury.
Freshman All-American offensive lineman Trey Smith is the player most everyone is keeping tabs on, even though there’s really not much Smith can do to accelerate or assure a return to the field.
Smith has a non-orthopedic medical condition that is being treated. There’s nothing Smith or the coaches can do other than hope medicine is effective enough that doctors will clear him for contact.
Senior tackle Chance Hall continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. Hall, however, did not appear to be close to being in shape in spring drills after missing all of last season.
Pruitt is serious about adding big-time talent, and one hope is that junior college signee Jahmir Johnson can be an immediate contributor.
Redshirt freshman K’Rojhn Calbert is expect to be ready to compete in fall drills, and both Riley Locklear and Devante Brooks will be 100 percent after missing part of spring drills with injuries.
Projected starters: LT Drew Richmond, LG Riley Locklear, OC Ryan Johnson, RG Jerome Carvin, RT Marcus Tatum
Pressing issue: Trey Smith’s health.
Big concern: Depth/ability to stay healthy through grueling early-season schedule.
Tennessee football previews
- Tennessee tailbacks: Can Ty Chandler play big enough to win starting job
- Vols running backs podcast: Who will Jeremy Pruitt turn to for a yard?
- Tennessee quarterbacks podcast: Discussing Vols issues at QB
- Vols quarterbacks: Don’t call it a controversy, but it is a competition
- Pruitt has vague answers that trigger intrigue
- Pruitt and Vols AD Phillip Fulmer see a lot of things the same way