The 2013 Vols were loaded at offensive line, featuring a starting five that had built cohesion and played together for several seasons. After Antonio “Tiny” Richardson declared early for the NFL Draft, Tennessee found itself in the unenviable position of having to replace its entire starting offensive line. The offensive line looked inconsistent during spring practices, and they are going to need to solidify quickly if they hope to have success in 2014.
The last few articles I’ve given you, however, are focusing on 2015 and not this season, and this article will do the same. Earlier this week, I broke down the athletes and specialists in the 2015 class the Vols have offered.
Up next: The offensive line.
While Tennessee only has a combined 6 starts among its offensive linemen in 2014, the roster should be in better shape coming into the 2015 season after a season of bonding this year. While the whole line is scant on experience, the interior of the line is perceived to be the strength of the unit, and that shows itself in how Butch Jones and staff have approached the 2015 class.
The Vols have offered 37 offensive linemen in 2015, and only 9 of those are listed as guards. That means Tennessee has targeted 28 offensive tackles in 2015. Obviously, Butch Jones knows his tackles are the weakness and is addressing that for the future.
Of the 37 linemen offered, 14 of them have committed to play elsewhere in 2015. That leaves 23 offensive linemen that are fair game for Tennessee.
Thus far, The Vols have received commitments from two stud offensive linemen and landed a third commitment Thursday night. Offensive tackles Jack Jones and Zach Stewart have both pledged to play for Tennessee in 2015, and both look to be solid additions for the future. Offensive/defensive tackle Chance Hall was the most recent recruit to add his name to Tennessee’s 2015 recruiting class, and he brings versatility to the line.
Jones, a 4-star linemen from Murfreesboro, is the No. 137 overall player in the country according to 247Sports. Jones committed to Tennessee well over a year ago, and he’s been a vital recruiter for the Vols much like Todd Kelly Jr. and Vic Wharton III were last season.
The 247Sports Composite ratings has Jones as the 13th best offensive tackle in the country and the 4th best player in the state of Tennessee. Jones plays at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, and he possesses a great frame that will allow him to add even more weight once he reaches Tennessee’s campus. He’s currently 6-4, 280 lbs and possesses good quickness.
Jones chose Tennessee over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and many others. He could possibly start immediately if needed, but he will likely provide depth his first season on campus and be a valuable asset for the future.
Stewart is an under-the-radar player not because of his ability, but because of his location. Since he lives and plays in Coalfield, Tennessee, many big programs didn’t target Stewart because he lives in a very small Tennessee town that’s not located close enough to Knoxville or Nashville to warrant visiting. Because of this, Tennessee was the only school to offer a scholarship to Stewart, and it looks like they could’ve found a gem.
Stewart is rated as a 3-star linemen and the No. 14 player in the state according to 247Sports. Tennessee is the only school Stewart has bothered to visit, and he won the 2013 Class A Mr. Football Linemen award in Tennessee. So, as previously stated, his ability is not in question; his location is what hindered his recruiting.
At 6-4, 296 lbs, Stewart has great size and wouldn’t have to gain much more weight to immediately be ready to play in the SEC. Although he’s listed primarily as a tackle on 247Sports, many analysts predict he will play guard in college, and his frame and body shape seem to suggest his highest ceiling is at guard.
Hall is a 3-star offensive tackle who also plays defensive tackle for Northside High School in Virginia. He’s the 23rd best player in Virginia, and he brings versatility to the line for the Vols.
Considered a Virginia lean for most of his recruitment, Hall made his decision to join the Vols late Thursday afternoon, and it came down to Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Virginia for the Roanoke native.
At 6-4, 288 lbs, Hall has a large frame that already has the build to play at the next level. He held offers from Virginia, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Duke, and Maryland among others.
The offensive line will be one of the most important units in recruiting for Tennessee moving forward, and 2015 will likely be the class that lays the foundation for future Tennessee offensive lines. Who else might the Vols add in the 2015 class? Read on, and we will answer your questions.
All stats and ratings are from 247Sports unless noted otherwise.