Continuity heading into 2022 is the main reason why you’re likely to see so many analysts high on Tennessee. Quarterback Hendon Hooker returns along with star receiver Cedric Tillman, and the Volunteers will also return four of five starters up front.
Cade Mays will be the only loss for Tennessee on the offensive line, vacating the right tackle position as he heads to the NFL. That’s a significant loss, sure, but Tennessee does have a couple of options on the roster to replace him.
They’ll also add one of the top offensive line prospects from the 2022 class, Addison Nichols.
How will it all look? Let’s dive in.
2022 Projected Starting Offensive Line
LT: Darnell Wright (Senior)
The former five-star prospect settled into the left tackle role during fall camp and never looked back. Expect him to hold down the same position this fall.
G: Jerome Carvin (Senior)
Carvin returns for a super senior season, giving Tennessee a big veteran boost at guard. The former four-star prospect has done a little bit of everything for the Vols over the years, and will settle right back into a starting job for his final season.
C: Cooper Mays (Junior)
Mays was rock solid in his first year as a starter, but dealt with an early injury that cost him a couple of starts. Carvin was able to fill in for him, but Tennessee will need both at full strength for 2022.
G: Javontez Spraggins (Junior)
Spraggins came on last offseason and became a starter, getting the nod in each game of the 2021 season. The powerhouse guard will be a mainstay once again in 2022.
RT: Dayne Davis (Junior)
The former walk-on was Tennessee’s swing tackle in 2021, filling in for Cade Mays at right tackle through injuries. He could find himself in a starting role this season, but will have to battle for it. JUCO product Jeremiah Crawford is another option here for Glen Elarbee.
Depth: Addison Nichols, Ollie Lane, Jeremiah Crawford, Kingston Harris, Jackson Lampley, RJ Perry, James Robinson
Addison Nichols is the headliner here, signing with Tennessee as a top 150 overall player in the class of 2022. It’s going to be interesting to see where Elarbee works him to start things this spring. Could he become a factor in the right tackle battle? At 6-5, 318 pounds, Nichols has the length to man the spot if they need him to do so. If not, he’ll likely become the first or second interior player off of the bench.
Senior Ollie Lane should return to his reserve role that he filled last season. As a junior, Lane appeared in spots where Cade and Cooper Mays were hurt. He should be the sixth or seventh man in the rotation once again.
From there, it’s a wide-open battle. Tennessee has several developmental pieces in the program, and they’ll add Mo Clipper, Brian Grant and Masai Reddick to that group this offseason.
Tennessee’s senior-led offensive line group should be a strength heading into the season. Paired with Hendon Hooker and Cedric Tillman, the Vols will be humming offensively once again in 2022.