The single most important position group on the Tennessee roster heading into the 2019 season is the offensive line, which has handicapped the Volunteer offense for two consecutive seasons. Now with a veteran quarterback and several upperclassmen skill players, the starting five up front need to perform at a high level more than ever.
On Sunday, Tennessee’s closed scrimmage gave us a potential look at what could be the first starting five. According to John Brice, Tennessee went (left to right) with Wanya Morris, Jerome Carvin, Brandon Kennedy, Riley Locklear and Marcus Tatum.
So @Vol_Football opens w/ Morris (LT) & Tatum (RT) on flanks. Interior OL is Carvin-Kennedy-Locklear to start n Neyland. Nice TD Eric Gray. Battle for #2 QB. Shrout n Maurer there; good day for Shrout but also INT. Aubrey Solomon n Greg Emerson most early DT work. Crouch some DE— John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) August 11, 2019
Of course, the most notable omission here is five-star tackle Darnell Wright, who is getting his first taste of college football in fall camp. Wanya Morris was able to enroll early and get up to speed in the spring. It’s going to take a little more patience with Wright, but Tennessee does have a nice veteran option in Tatum for the time being.
Is this the combo you’ll see against Georgia State in the opener? You probably shouldn’t bet on it.
“I don’t think we’re anywhere close to finding the first group of five,” Jeremy Pruitt admitted on Saturday after practice. “We’ve got an idea of who the 10 or 11 guys are there that we’re working. We’ve worked several combinations. We’re looking for consistency throughout the entire group.”
Jahmir Johnson, K’Rojhn Calbert and Ryan Johnson could all enter this equation as well. Don’t forget about Trey Smith either, who is still on a contact restriction as he battles back from blood clots that sidelined him twice in the last two seasons. Smith could slot in as a starting guard if he ends up getting cleared.
The one thing that stand out with this group is the depth, which is something that Tennessee hasn’t had at this position in a while. Freshmen Jackson Lampley and Chris Akporoghene are also on the depth chart, creating a solid 10-11 guys on the depth chart. Hopefully that competitive depth pays off in the fall.