Tennessee didn’t sign the five-star offensive linemen that they were able to sign in the 2019 class, but the Vols kept up a trend in 2020. Jeremy Pruitt has been adamant about adding size and depth up front, which is exactly what he was able to do during the early signing period this year.
Adding to four signees from last year, Tennessee took three offensive linemen this year. Four-star center Cooper Mays led the way, along with a couple of developmental interior prospects.
Four-star center Cooper Mays
“Up front, starting with a local guy, Cooper Mays, a guy that we saw when we first got here,” Pruitt said last week. “He was playing center, guard, played a little bit of defense. But you talk about playing with toughness. Knows how to play the game, instinctive, plays with the right leverage up front. A guy that we think has tremendous upside, a guy that could come in here and contribute right away.”
Mays is probably the one guy from this group that will have to get a little bigger. He currently stands in at 6-3, 283 pounds. Mays is the 8th ranked prospect in the state and the 4th ranked center in the entire class.
His path to playing early is likely influenced by the status of Brandon Kennedy, who is applying for his 6th season of eligibility. Guard Trey Smith is likely headed to the NFL, so maybe there’s a potential chance there.
Three-star guard James Robinson
“James Robinson from Montgomery, Alabama, is a guy that came to camp this past year, so we had a chance to see him work,” Pruitt explained. “He played right tackle on his high-school team but probably is a guy that will end up being a guard for us. But a guy that has power — 6-3, 320 pounds — and James, he came here at camp and probably took 60 or 70 reps of one-on-one in about an hour. Just took rep after rep after rep, which tells you a little bit about his competitive spirit.”
Robinson is the classic example of a guy taking advantage of camp opportunities. He’s nothing flashy if you look at the recruiting rankings, but there’s nothing that can replace a chance to take live reps in front of coaching staffs.
While Robinson likely won’t be playing early, he offers immediate size and depth at the position, something Tennessee didn’t have much of two years ago. After what the Vols went through in 2017 and 2018, you have to be a fan of adding as much size as you possibly can at the position.
Three-star guard Javontez Spraggins
“Javontez Spraggins from East St. Louis is another guy that was part of a state championship team,” Pruitt said. “Probably 6-2, 338 pounds. A guy that’s extremely athletic, has really good balance and body control. Is probably as excited about having a chance to continue his football career in college as anybody I’ve ever been a part of in recruiting. A guy that’s just hungry, ready to get here. He’s already been calling today, wanting to get the playbook, wanting to get the next workout. A guy that’s used to winning.”
Everything said above about Robinson applies to Spraggins. He impressed Tennessee coaches over the summer in camp, earning an offer, committing on the spot and never wavering.
He’s a prototypical guard prospect, known to be an aggressive blocker on the field. Tennessee will likely want him to trim down a touch, but he’s got plenty of time to do that. Spraggins has the versatility to play center as well, perhaps boosting his chances to play early on.
For the time being, Spraggins and Robinson will give Tennessee some really competitive depth in camp, which is always a good thing.