Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss Tennessee commit Tanner Antonutti and the offensive line recruitment.
Antonutti sticking with Tennessee
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Less than a month before his firing, Butch Jones said recruiting offensive linemen was paramount. Tennessee’s line has been ravaged by injuries and attrition.
The depth heading into next season has taken a hit when Venzell Boulware left the team and Jack Jones retired because of neck issues.
Tennessee’s two offensive line commits have become far more important with the coaching search underway.
Offensive tackle commit Tanner Antonutti told SEC Country he still wants to stick with the Vols.
“I want to stay with UT,” Antonutti said. “I’ve been a UT fan since I was little, long before Coach Jones was there. I’m a Tennessee boy. I know they aren’t going to end up with someone worse. And Coach Jones wasn’t a bad coach, they are just trying to go higher.”
It’s not the season Tennessee fans or commits envisioned with the team struggling to a 4-7 record.
Antonutti won’t let a bad year dictate his thoughts, though.
“It is what it is, it happens everywhere,” Antonutti said. “I’m staying loyal to UT. I really want to see what ends up happening. I think it’s all going to be for the good.”
The early signing period will open on Dec. 20. It is less than a month away and Tennessee doesn’t have a coach lined up.
The Vols hold 16 commitments in the Class of 2018. It’ll be interesting to see how each commit approaches the new early signing period. There’s a real chance the commits might have 10 days to get to know the new coach.
“I may not sign, just so I could build a relationship,” Antonutti said. “It’s a slim chance, but if we didn’t have a great relationship or didn’t get along well. I wouldn’t want to go there. I would just want to make sure everything is sound. Just to make sure it’s the right decision.”
Antonutti is a level-headed guy with great perspective for a high school senior. I don’t think he and a new coach would clash at all.
What Tanner Antonutti brings
Antonutti played tight end most of his career for Ensworth High School. He moved to tackle this season — with solid results.
Antonutti can only remember giving up three or four sacks in the 10 games he played at tackle, which isn’t bad for his first extended time at the position.
He knows there are still areas to work on and improve on. Antonutti knows he needs to work on it quick. If the injury bug bites the Vols in the same way next season, Antonutti could see the field.
“There is still that transition to make from technique and size,” Antonutti said. “That’s why I’m hitting the weight room hard now and putting on the weight. Because I’m not trying to get up there and get my butt handed to me.
“My grind isn’t going to change depending on that,” Antonutti said. “I’m going to work hard no matter what just to get the weight on and get ready. If there is a chance for me to play as a freshman, my goal is to be ready.”
Antonutti weighs 262 pounds, which is about 20 pounds less than anyone on currently on Tennessee’s line.
His experience at tight end shows his athleticism, though. If he could combine his movement with more size than Antonutti could become a very productive player for the Vols.
“Being mobile,” Antonutti said. “Getting the edge isn’t easy for most people. I think being mobile, agile and getting in front of people.”
The offensive line situation
Antonutti seems like he’ll end up with the Vols. The other commit is Ollie Lane who also seems solidly committed.
Both attended the LSU game last weekend and got a picture with Peyton Manning.
— Tanner Antonutti (@TannerAntonutti) November 19, 2017
— Ollie Lane (@gibbseagles78) November 20, 2017
It would be best for the new coaching staff to bring on four offensive linemen this cycle. The staff likely won’t have to worry about these two.
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