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Tennessee Football: The Most Important Players of 2017: #7 Shy Tuttle

Can he stay healthy?

NCAA Football: Florida at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Our countdown of the most important players to Tennessee football in 2017 continues with Shy Tuttle. Shy has dealt with injury issues during each of his first two seasons with the team. He was part of that five star duo at defensive tackle two years ago when he and Khalil McKenzie committed. It hasn’t quite worked out, but it’s not too late. Tuttle is a big piece for the Vols in 2017.

Terry Lambert: #10

Tuttle’s time so far in Knoxville has been snakebitten. Back to back season ending injuries have derailed his progress to be a consistent force to this point, but the flashes have been there. Butch Jones has to have both he and Khalil McKenzie emerge and live up to their five star billing in 2017, or it’s going to be a long season trying to defend the run in the SEC.

Conner Knapp: Unranked

Shy Tuttle and Kahlil McKenzie came into Tennessee as highly touted recruits, but both have struggled to reach their potential for several reasons. Tuttle’s main hindrance has been health. He has suffered a season-ending injury in each of his first two seasons. If he is able to return early in the season and remain healthy, Tuttle could go a long way to anchoring Tennessee’s defense in 2017.

Evan Winter: #5

When healthy, Tuttle has shown the most skill out of all of the interior defensive linemen on UT's roster. If the Vols want to improve on their run defense from last season, it all starts up front. The early news regarding Tuttle's recovery is encouraging, and hopefully he will be the disruptive force that convinced UT to pursue him like they did during recruiting.