If you watched the 2018 version of the Tennessee Volunteers, it wasn’t hard to identify what was holding them back. The offensive line failed to spark the running game, while allowing several leaks that consistently put quarterback Jarrett Guarantano in bad spots. To make matters worse, an injury to center Brandon Kennedy and the shut down of Trey Smith due to blood clots forced Tennessee to scramble for a new combination.
The main focus of the 2019 recruiting cycle for Tennessee was easily the offensive line. The Vols needed numbers at the position more than anything, simply for depth concerns. They were able to ink five offensive linemen in the class, unfortunately already losing one in Melvin McBride to medical concerns.
That group included two five star tackles, each of whom are expected to start from game No. 1 this fall. Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright have arrived on campus as two of the most important players on this roster, each making the top five in our countdown ahead of the season.
Wright lands at No. 5 on the list.
The five-star tackle ended up finishing the recruiting cycle ranked as the tenth overall player in the 2019 class, according to the 247 Sports composite. Wright was a participant in the Under Armour All-America Game, turning heads with his power.
At 6-6, 320 pounds, Wright has the size and length already to project to the next level. With Wanya Morris working at left tackle as an early enrollee, Wright’s natural landing spot for the time being would figure to be at right tackle.
As important as added protection for Guarantano is, equally important is getting the rushing attack rolling. Having a competent, somewhat consistent run game would do wonders for Guarantano, who then might be able to operate in some more manageable downs and distances.
For a 6-6 tackle, Wright does a really nice job with his pad level. He’s strong in his upper body, but he’s able to use his legs and really drive defenders out of the box. Wright’s physicality is exactly what this offensive line group needs, particularly in the rushing attack.
It’s tough to imagine a scenario where Wright isn’t a part of the starting five against Georgia State in the opener. It’s probably important to allow both Wright and Morris some time to get adjusted to the college game, but hopefully by the end of the season, you’ll be seeing a totally new attitude on the line of scrimmage in Knoxville.