By going the transfer route, Jeremy Pruitt has put Tennessee football in good position not to avoid a drop-off from last year’s defensive line but to give this year’s unit a chance to be competent. And that’s all you can ask for.
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A proven returning contributor combined with three proven experienced transfers, two of whom will certainly be good to go and one who may be, has the Vols in decent shape at tackle. So they have a start.
If Aubrey Solomon receives eligibility to play this year, then UT won’t just be in decent shape. They will be in incredible shape and looking to potentially continue the success they had last year at defensive tackle.
However, there is still the issue with the defensive ends. Matthew Butler appears to have emerged by default, and John Mincey as a backup, at this stage, shouldn’t get anybody too excited. Pruitt has some questions to answer at those spots.
Last year, Kyle Phillips was the breakout star for the Vols, and he played defensive end. So this is a lot of production to replace, and does anybody believe that Butler and Mincey are capable of doing that? Right now, there’s no reason to.
As a result, while Tennessee football is in good enough shape to now be solid in the middle again, they are looking to have major issues on the edge. Pruitt needs to work on that fast, maybe running one of the tackles there. But it’s highly unlikely he doesn’t have an issue, so he has a ton of work to do to make sure it doesn’t manifest itself. That will define the line for this year.