Tennessee football: Vols 5 most important seniors for 2018 season

BRISTOL, TN - SEPTEMBER 10: Teammates surround defensive lineman Shy Tuttle
BRISTOL, TN - SEPTEMBER 10: Teammates surround defensive lineman Shy Tuttle /
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Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images /

A four-star defensive tackle in the 2015 Tennessee football recruiting class, Shy Tuttle saw early action and displayed the prospects of a bright future. However, he suffered back to back season-ending injuries with the Vols.

Now, he enters this year under a new conditioning coach, a new medical staff, a new defensive system and coming off his first full offseason since his freshman year. With all the transitions, he’s going to be huge for the Vols.

We’ve mentioned in multiple posts already the concern at nose tackle for the Vols. The departure of Kahlil McKenzie leaves them undersized their to properly run Jeremy Pruitt’s and Kevin Sherrer’s 3-4 defense. But Tuttle is a proven talent, and he can still find ways to be effective, even if he is only at 300 pounds.

Alexis Johnson could have been on here as he’s a player the Vols can’t afford to lose on the line as well. However, he’s not as proven as Tuttle since he’s seen limited action through two years. That makes him not as critical at this point.

Tuttle is the only proven guy on the line overall, and as a result, he’s one of the most important seniors. This is also a potential breakout year for him, so keep an eye out for what he does. He’s got to be the anchor for this new system, making his play crucial. Him getting hurt again would be disastrous on its own. While playing, the Vols will rely on him to drive the front seven. So there’s lots of pressure here.