Tennessee football 2019 preview by position: Vols defensive line

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images /
1 of 5
Fan Day
Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images /

Tennessee football has to replace all of its starting defensive linemen for 2019. Here is a preview of the Volunteers on the line heading into the year.

While talent returns all over the field for Tennessee football heading into the 2019 season, the opposite is true for the Vols’ defensive line. And that could be an issue that derails all of Jeremy Pruitt’s second season if he doesn’t find replacements fast.

After all, the starting members of the defensive line was the only consistently good unit for the Vols in 2018 throughout the 3-4 and pro-style transitions. Alexis Johnson, Shy Tuttle and Darrell Taylor were a huge reason for the Vols going 5-7 and not 3-9 last year.

All three players are gone. Even Paul Bain, who was a walk-on backup to provide depth, is gone. That leaves Tennessee football looking for three new guys to step in. Only one of them, a player we’ll get to, has proven anything at this level.

That one player combined with two junior college transfers and a regular transfer, who may or may not be eligible to play, only adds to the questions, though for this year. Nobody is proven at this level yet on the line.

Last year, the defensive line didn’t have enough depth, and that resulted in the Vols often wilting in the second half because the starters had no help. If those backups did not develop at all, this unit could be in serious trouble.

As we get set to preview the Vols’ defensive line for the 2019 season, it’s worth noting that the one transfer whose eligibility is in question keeps the breakdown of the whole unit in question. But that doesn’t mean we have an idea of where things are going.

So, as usual, we’ll list our projected starters and backups. There are two tackles and one end in any starting rotation. Sure, an outside linebacker can line up at end, but we’re going to keep them with our linebackers preview.

Anyway, let’s go ahead and find out if lack of experience on the Vols’ defensive line will be what derails them. Or let’s see if they have found enough new blood to keep up last year’s production. This is our preview for Tennessee football up front heading into the 2019 season.