Tennessee football’s right tackle spot is up for grabs, center is another huge question. Ryan Johnson is the only guy returning for the Vols who actually has experience playing the position. As a result, you would figure to make him the starter, right? Wrong.
Johnson actually may be the underdog to take the job. Jeremy Pruitt launched an offseason war with Nick Saban for the right to get graduate transfer Brandon Kennedy from the Alabama Crimson Tide to come to Rocky Top. Given that fight, he clearly wants Kennedy to be able to have an impact as part of his win-now strategy.
A rare graduate transfer who has two years of eligibility, Kennedy is one of the versatile lineman on the roster who can play inside our outside. But he is familiar with playing center as the backup for Alabama the past two years there.
Kennedy also spent those years playing center in two different pro-style offenses, under Lane Kiffin and Brian Daboll. That experience gives him a huge leg up learning the pro-style offense that Tyson Helton wants to run.
However, Johnson is the one with real, tangible experience starting at center at this level. On top of that, he actually has experience starting for the Vols, even if it was in Butch Jones’s ridiculously managed spread offense.
Simply put, this is going to be a very interesting fight in the preseason. It’s hard to find somebody else who can work their way into the center rotation, and center is arguably as important as blindside tackle on the offensive line. So pay attention to where this ends up.