While we may be trying to come up with a starting five on the offensive line in our heads, Jeremy Pruitt is preparing some sort of large rotation up front this fall — at least that’s what he’s saying right now. Tennessee’s second year head coach told reporters on Tuesday that he plans on playing as many as ten bodies on the offensive line this year.
“I think we’ll probably play eight to ten guys,” Pruitt said. “I really do. I think there’s going to be that many guys that deserve to play. I think we’re going to need to play that many guys, so we’ll keep working them that way.”
Tennessee’s starting five during the first closed scrimmage at Neyland Stadium consisted of Wanya Morris, Jerome Carvin, Brandon Kennedy, Riley Locklear and Marcus Tatum. However, five-star freshman Darnell Wright could easily crack that rotation, along with veterans Jahmir Johnson, Ryan Johnson and K’Rojhn Calbert.
If Trey Smith gets cleared to play, you can mark him down as a starter as well.
“I think it’s good — it’s good for competition,” Pruitt continued. “Nobody’s going to get complacent. Just go out there and work. Who performs the best every day will be with the ones. It’s a kind of production-based industry, so just do it that way and it’ll be a good thing.”
So there are a couple of schools of thought here. First, is it concerning that a handful of guys aren’t standing out by this point? If you’re truly going to rotate eight to ten guys, can you legitimately build chemistry up front?
On the other hand, Tennessee has real competitive depth on the offensive line for the first time in a couple of years. Losing a body or two wouldn’t be quite the death sentence that it was in 2017 or even 2018.
And who knows — maybe his rotation won’t be quite as big as he’s selling. Maybe he’s trying to keep ten guys engaged and working to secure a starting spot. My guess is that this rotation gets narrowed down to six or seven after the first couple of games.
One thing we know for sure — this is the most talented Tennessee has been up front in a few years. While that isn’t saying much, it should be a big benefit to Jarrett Guarantano and the rest of the offense as the Volunteers try to take a step forward this season.