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Brandon Kennedy has already earned the respect of his teammates

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the biggest addition to the Tennessee roster since Jeremy Pruitt arrived in Knoxville is junior center Brandon Kennedy. The 6-3, 301 pound offensive lineman arrives at Tennessee after graduating from Alabama.

Frustrated with a lack of playing time, Kennedy narrowed his options down to Tennessee and Auburn. After a rule change by the SEC, Kennedy’s path was clear to join either school. He ultimately chose Tennessee and is expected to start when the Vols face the West Virginia Mountaineers on September 1st.

“Brandon is a really good competitor,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said on Thursday. “He strains. He knows how to strain and he knows how to do it every play. A guy like him, I think he’s quickly earned the respect of his teammates by the way he practices and how he goes about his business. I think everybody in our program is excited that he’s here.”

Tennessee needed depth and frankly more talent up front on the offensive line. Kennedy’s addition adds both and should help a group that really struggled in 2017. For Jeremy Pruitt, his pitch to Kennedy was easy. The Vols had a clear need and the two were already somewhat familiar with each other.

“(Pruitt) just told me I have a great opportunity if I come here and do what I have to do, so that was my main thing,” Kennedy said.

“I was a little nervous at first,” Kennedy admitted. “But as I got here, people came around me and accepted me and I feel like I gained their trust pretty quick.” Kennedy credits junior tackle Drew Richmond as a guy who made his transition to Knoxville easier.

Kennedy becomes one of the easier projections on the Tennessee offensive line, playing at center or perhaps guard, as he alluded to on Thursday. Both Chance Hall and Trey Smith are still limited for now, making it tough to find that right combination on the offensive line. What position each will play when they return remains to be seen.

For Kennedy though, it has to be nice to walk into a situation where you’re already being viewed as a leader. He’s already one of the most important players on this roster and could play a monster role in the Tennessee rebuilt.