Vols Football: 5 Things to Watch in Spring Practices

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4. The Battle at the Line

Will we see more of this from the new linemen? PHOTO: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

In Butch Jones’ first season as head coach of the Vols, he and his staff took over a team that lost a plethora of talent from the skill positions. QB Tyler Bray, WR’s Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, Zach Rogers, and TE Mychal Rivera all were headed for the NFL when Jones came to town, and it left the Vols with a talent void at very key positions.

Entering his second season at the helm, Butch Jones now faces another unique problem: Replacing the entire offensive and defensive lines. All 5 starters from the offensive line are now pursuing jobs in the NFL, and the 4 defensive linemen who started consistently last season have graduated. Two linebackers graduated as well, and A.J. Johnson is the only returning member of the 2013 defensive front 7 (Curt Maggitt did not play in 2013).

Butch Jones and his staff made recruiting both lines a priority for the 2014 recruiting class, and they succeeded in signing 4 offensive linemen and 7 defensive linemen. The bodies alone will be helpful, but each individual has the potential to vie for playing time this upcoming season and has the talent to help shore up the depth on both lines and help the Vols compete in the SEC.

The defensive line looks to be the most improved unit outside of the skill positions on offensive, welcoming in four 4-stars and a junior college linemen who should compete for a starting position immediately. All the defensive line prospects also have incredibly versatility, many possessing the potential to be defensive ends or defensive tackles. Butch Jones and his staff saw their team’s needs and addressed them as well as anyone could have asked.