Focusing heavily on Shy Tuttle’s role would seem to come into question a bit. With a desperate need for size to carry the middle in Tennessee football’s new 3-4 scheme that Jeremy Pruitt is installing, the 6’3″ 300-pound senior doesn’t quite fill that void.
It’s also true that there are numerous defensive tackles in general with real talent, and they were all four-star recruits. That includes Alexis Johnson, who is also a senior, Greg Emerson and Emmit Gooden. Kingston Harris could also be in the mix.
So Tuttle is not supposed to be a standout guy up front, especially since he hasn’t exploded into a star yet after three previous years on campus. But he is, and he’s a crucial piece. In fact, his role this year is going to be more important than ever. And part of that is due to his talents.
With the departure of Kahlil McKenzie, Tuttle is the only proven returning defensive tackle. He also is finally healthy, having his first full offseason since his freshman year, 2015. In 2016 and 2017, the guy suffered season-ending injuries.
So throughout this offseason, he has finally been able to get back into football shape. On top of that, he has continued to be the one guy the coaches have relied on throughout spring practice and fall camp this year.
As a result, it’s clear that Tuttle is one of the best players on the team. He may not have the right size to exactly be a nose tackle. But he can clearly play his role, and the talent is there. Last season, his first mostly full season in Knoxville, he had 27 tackles overall and two and a half for a loss.
This year, as the player expected to fill the cog in the middle to allow room for edge rushers to wreak havoc, he has a different role. But he’s talented enough to do it, even without the size. So he’s definitely on our list.