For the second time in just eight months, Tennessee left-tackle Trey Smith will be sidelined due to the development of blood clots in his lungs. Smith’s first time dealing with this issue was back in February and after a six month treatment of anticoagulants, he was cleared to return in August prior to the start of the season.
With this condition forcing the young offensive lineman to once again take a hiatus from football, the Vols don’t have long to come up with a solution at left-tackle. It will not be easy to replace such a highly respected player as Trey Smith. As of right now, there appears to be two players in line to replace Smith at the left-tackle spot.
Redshirt junior Drew Richmond has quite a bit of experience at the position. He was the primary left-tackle in his first two years at Tennessee, making 13 starts and playing in 16 games. This year he had given way to Smith at the left tackle position and moved to the other side of the line to right tackle. Richmond has started there in all seven games thus far in 2018.
The other top option to replace Smith is redshirt sophomore Nathan Niehaus. Niehaus’ first two career starts have come in the past two weeks, getting the starting nod at right guard for the Vols against Auburn and Alabama. He has played in five games this year altogether after not seeing any playing time in his first two seasons with the program.
Which of the two ends up being the guy to take over for Smith is yet to be seen. It’s no secret the offensive line has struggled mightily at times in 2018 and this blow certainly doesn’t help. The patched up offense looks to bounce back and lead the Vols to the upset on the road this Saturday in Columbia.