Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke to the media on Tuesday, finally getting a little specific about freshman defensive lineman Greg Emerson. Pruitt spoke on Emerson’s move to the offensive side of the ball and how he was looking for a fair assessment of his stud newcomer.
“I don’t think letting a guy practice for two days and then going to scrimmage is fair,” Pruitt told reporters on Tuesday. “I think we have an idea about their future and what they could be. We’re going to let these guys finish the spring at those spots and then we’ll evaluate.”
One of the most notable — and frankly most surprising — position changes has been former four-star recruit Greg Emerson. The 6-3, 280 pound freshman early enrollee signed as a top player out of the state of Tennessee and one of the best defensive linemen in the nation. With more depth on the defensive front than the offensive line, Emerson has been working as a guard for the past week.
“He’s played offense before in high school. I think it’s good for him to work on both sides of the ball. He’s a young kid and it’s always easy to put unrealistic expectations on recruits, but it’s a developmental game.”
Initially thought of as an experiment of sorts, the move does seem to be a touch more serious, at least for now. “Moving forward, we’ll see — we’ll make a decision as the summer goes to see where he’s going to play,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt also noted that this was the first time that Emerson had practiced in nearly a year. He ended up missing his senior season in 2018 after suffering an injury at a recruiting camp over the summer.
Emerson was one of the few “big fish” that Jeremy Pruitt and his staff were able to land in their first (abbreviated) recruiting period at Tennessee, so seeing him swap positions this early is pretty surprising. Emerson was being thought of as a guy that could come help out immediately on the defensive interior.
I think this tells us two things. Number one, the offensive line depth is a serious issue, which we all knew. That depth will get better as guys get healthy over the summer, but this all could very well end up being nothing more than Will Friend needing more bodies.
Number two, it seems like the defensive line depth is pretty solid right now. Kyle Phillips, Jonathan Kongbo, Shy Tuttle are your projected starters, but the roster seems to go 4-5 deep after that. Those numbers will only improve in the fall after Kingston Harris, Brandt Lawless and Emmit Gooden get on campus.
While it may be a little unorthodox, now is the time to try these things. We’ll see what Emerson does in the orange and white game on Saturday.