Tennessee will use fresh faces to help fix offensive line woes
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The offensive line was probably the weakest link for Tennessee last season. Sure, the defensive line got pushed around and the wide receivers almost never produced big plays. The offensive line was beaten up by the end of the season and forced to use a walk-on against LSU. The line was gashed so much that all three quarterbacks who played spent time injured last season from the constant beating they took.
Coach Jeremy Pruitt has come in and immediately targeted the offensive line as an area of need.
Pruitt closed the deal with 4-star offensive tackle Jerome Carvin, who had been a Mississippi State commit for a few months prior. He even wore a maroon suit to his signing ceremony, so this one wasn’t easy for Pruitt.
Junior college lineman Jahmir Johnson also signed to helped add some immediate depth to the line.
Pruitt has targeted JUCO offensive guard JohnCarlo Valentin. I believe the Vols are in a good place to land Valentin right now.
The JUCO route indicates Pruitt doesn’t believe in the current players on the roster or the depth already there heading into next season.
The only position not up for debate is left tackle. Trey Smith locked down the position toward the end of his freshman year. Smith is a special talent and will almost certainly turn pro after two more seasons in college. He’ll be a great anchor on the line.
The center spot could fall to Riley Locklear or Ryan Johnson. Locklear practiced at center late in the year and Johnson started the Vanderbilt game at Center.
The guard positions likely will be a battle between rising redshirt sophomore Ryan Johnson and Valentin if he comes on board. Expect Jahmir Johnson to factor into the battle, too.
Right tackle could be rising redshirt junior Drew Richmond’s spot to lose. He spent the past two seasons at left tackle before being unseated by Smith. Richmond was never been too productive in his starting role and the move on the line could help him out.
Jahmir Johnson will also compete at the right tackle spot of as well. Same with Carvin, who was told by the previous staff the right tackle spot would be an open competition.
Regardless of how it shakes out, it’ll be a group without a lot of experience next season. Tennessee offensive line coach Will Friend will have his work cut out for him getting the line ready for SEC play.
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