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Shy Tuttle is finally healthy, ready to anchor the Tennessee defense

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Tennessee needs a full season out of Tuttle.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

One key piece of Tennessee’s defensive puzzle in 2018 will be Shy Tuttle, who has yet to live up to the hype due to an injury-filled career to this point. Tuttle is expected to handle nose tackle duties for the Vols this year — his final season of eligibility. According to him, this is as healthy as he’s ever been since his arrival on campus.

“It’s good. Being healthy going into my last year — this is as healthy as I’ve been since I’ve been here,” Tuttle said. “It feels good just to knock off some rust and start becoming a better football player.”

The former five star recruit saw his 2015 and 2016 seasons end early due to injuries. He popped up hurt last year, to which Butch Jones said was due to Tuttle falling on a helmet.

“I’m gaining confidence. My leg is starting to get back under me,” Tuttle told reporters on Wednesday. He noted that this time last year he was on crutches, so he was excited to be starting the season healthy and able to put in a full offseason’s worth of work.

When asked what has been the toughest part of the coaching staff change, Tuttle pointed to the verbiage of the defense. “It’s a whole new lingo, that’s tough on everyone. You pretty much throw out what you learned in the past.”

Tuttle confirmed that Jonathan Kongbo and Kyle Phillips had been working alongside him on the defensive line. It looks like those three are a good bet to be your opening day starters, at least in the 3-4 base. Tuttle also said that Eric Crosby and Alexis Johnson had been getting work at nose behind him.

We’ll get our first look at this new look defense on Saturday, April 21st during the Orange and White game.