SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic has already named Tennessee as his No. 2 offensive line in the conference, now he’s back for individual position group rankings. Naturally, the Volunteers were well represented.
Cubelic placed senior Trey Smith as his top guard in the conference, to no one’s surprise. The former five-star recruit got back in his groove last season as a junior, fighting back from his second stint with blood clots. Smith hasn’t been able to participate in offseason activities for the last two years, but that should change this summer.
Maybe to start 2020, Smith won’t have to shake off rust to open the season like he has in the last two years. Tennessee will need him at his best early on, with Oklahoma up in week two.
Smith opted to return to Knoxville for his senior season instead of leaving early for the NFL. Center Brandon Kennedy opted to pursue one more year of eligibility after struggling with injuries early in his career. Luckily for Tennessee, the NCAA granted his wish. Kennedy returns for a sixth season, bringing a massive veteran presence to the line.
After suffering a knee injury after his first game as a Volunteer in 2018, Kennedy missed the rest of that season. However, he came back strong in 2019, starting every game and helping Tennessee to an eight win season.
He’s back for one more year, and Cole Cubelic thinks he’s the third best centers in the conference. Kennedy trails only Drake Jackson and Trey Hill in Cubelic’s top five.
One guy that may have appeared in the guard ranking is Cade Mays, who transfered from Georgia to Tennessee this offseason. He wasn’t ranked due to questions surrounding his immediate eligibility, but Cubelic admitted that he may have included him had he been ruled eligible already.
So if you’re counting at home, that’s three top interior lineman, to go along with two former five-star tackle prospects entering their second season in Knoxville. It’s easy to see why analysts and fans are so high on this group. They should easily be the strength of the offense this fall — one that might just be ready to compete in the SEC East.