How do you win football games? What is the one thing that translates to any level of football? Ask any coach out there and they’ll probably tell you the same thing. It’s all about winning the line of scrimmage.
We’re roughly halfway through the 2019 recruiting cycle and Jeremy Pruitt transformation of the Tennessee roster is well underway. There’s a theme brewing here, too. It’s size, with a particular emphasis on the trenches.
The Vols picked up their third commitment on the offensive line last week, pulling in tackle Chris Akporoghene from the IMG Academy. Akporoghene joins five-star tackle Wanya Morris and four-star guard Jackson Lampley.
Those three won’t join Tennessee until next year, but Pruitt and his staff were already able to pull in immediate reinforcements up front in their 2018 class. JUCO Jahmir Johnson, Jerome Carvin, Tanner Antonutti and Ollie Lane will provide immediate depth for the Vols this season. Incoming transfer Brandon Kennedy is likely your starting center after graduating from Alabama. The need for offensive line help was obvious and this new staff has absolutely taken care of it.
Following that same idea, they’ve begun flipping the front of the defense as well. Building off of adding Greg Emerson, Emmitt Gooden, John Mincey, Kingston Harris and Kurott Garland last year, Tennessee already has three big interior defensive lineman committed for 2019. LeDarrius Cox (6-4, 305), Elijah Simmons (6-1, 344) and Darel Middleton (6-7, 290) fit what Tennessee needs up front, which at this point can be boiled down to pure size and length.
There are going to be some bumps in the road this season as the defensive staff attempts to plug some players in who don’t exactly fit the new scheme, but that’s all part of a scheme transition.
The 2019 class may not go down as the most talented class Pruitt pulls in, but it will go down as perhaps the foundational group for what his staff builds in Knoxville. The five-stars and the high-caliber athletes may not be in this group (outside of Wanya Morris), but it’s going to consist of guys of big bodies that are going to help the Vols win the line of scrimmage.
Quite frankly, that’s something Tennessee hasn’t done in years. Gone are the days of the spread offense. I doubt Tennessee will be lining up from the gun on the goal line anymore. It’s back to the basics, and it’s exactly what had to happen in Knoxville.