The Tennessee defensive line disappointed for the most part last season, and the coaching staff will demand a lot from the position group this season.
It’s difficult to bring up the defensive line and not look at how Jonathan Kongbo fits in. The junior college transfer has had a rocky two seasons in Knoxville. Heading into his senior season, his role will represent one of the team’s most interesting subplots.
Newcomers Greg Emerson and junior college transfer Emmit Gooden are highly touted. If Gooden can adjust to the SEC game quickly he’ll push for playing time early. Emerson is raw but talented, and with a 6-foot-3, 285-pound frame he can play on the line early.
Shy Tuttle and Kyle Phillips likely will be the leaders of the group. Coach Jeremy Pruitt lauded Phillips as one of the most improved players in the spring. Tuttle seemed to be rounding into form late last season after injuries robbed him of finishing his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Pruitt’s 3-4 scheme will require the linemen to clog up the middle of the field and occupy multiple blockers. That is possible if the group can stay healthy. Pruitt and his staff won’t let up on them.
WMNL’s Josh Ward and SEC Country’s Mike Griffith go in-depth about what to expect from the defensive line this season. Ward also brings on Bill Bender of Sporting News to discuss the future of Tennessee’s program and the SEC East.