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 and the offensive line haul in the Class of 2018 and how it fits into the roster.
Tennessee signed four offensive linemen this class. Two of them have already made their way to campus and are working out with the team.
“Both freshmen who are here right now are with the strength staff,” Friend said. “Both guys have really worked hard and have been some of the hardest workers on the team. We’re excited about what they have done and the way they’ve approached it.”
Friend talked to a packed crowd at the Tennessee Theatre during the National Signing Day celebration. He spoke about how happy he was to be in Knoxville and about the four signees.
Lane and Carvin are intriguing prospects. They will probably shape the future of the offensive line. If you are trying to pick who will make a difference on the field first, it’s not an easy choice.
Lane was the less-heralded prospect, but he fits into what the new staff is seeking.
“Ollie is a big, physical guy,” Friend said. “He’s going to play inside for us at guard or center.”
Playing in the middle of the line might give Lane a leg up into getting on the field earlier. Tennessee has plenty of tackles right now, but there are not many obvious options in the middle of the line. Ryan Johnson and Riley Locklear are the two returners in the middle of the line with the most experience.
Lane has a 6-foot-5, 285-pound frame and blocked in a triple-option scheme in high school. The run-blocking experience will benefit him. He’s a dark horse candidate for playing time next season.
Carvin has plenty of size at 6-4, 330 pounds. He was recruited to Alabama as a guard. The previous staff told him he would be brought in as a right tackle.
Carvin has always played tackle and knows the position better. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if his future is at the guard position. Especially with how thin the inside of the line appears.
Being on campus as early enrollees will help the duo tremendously.
Yet to arrive
Antonutti is another in-state player. He played most of his career at tight end for Ensworth (Nashville) High School but switched primarily to tackle this season.
There is still plenty for Antonutti to learn at the position. He also needs to bulk up. At 6-5, he has the frame, but weighing only 255 pounds there is still plenty of muscle for him to add.
His athleticism makes him an interesting piece down the line.
Johnson comes to the Vols from Arizona Western. He will likely compete for the right tackle position in fall camp.
The coaching staff didn’t add junior college prospects such as Johnson to develop on the bench. The coaches expect him to play a role early on.
How they fit on the roster
The only position on the offensive line locked up at this point is left tackle. Trey Smith has the spot without much of a doubt for the next two seasons, until he has a chance to turn pro after his junior year.
The middle of the line seems up for grabs. Ryan Johnson can play any spot on the line. I imagine he will play one of the guard spots. He’s a really smart player and moving him to center to call out the schemes on the line might be a smart call by the coaching staff.
Look for some mix of Locklear, Carvin, Lane and Jahmir Johnson to fill out the other two interior positions.
Right tackle would also seem pretty open. Drew Richmond played left tackle for the majority of the past two seasons. He’ll receive a look at right tackle. If Chance Hall has recovered from his knee injury, then he’ll receive a look. Carvin and Jahmir Johnson will likely be in the mix, too.
The offensive line was ravaged by injuries in 2017. This group could make one of the biggest improvements from last season if it can collectively stay healthy.
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