2. Left guard
Jahmir Johnson; Riley Locklear; Nathan Niehaus; K’Rojhn Calbert; Jerome Carvin
With Brandon Kennedy returning to health to resume his role at center, Ryan Johnson will take back over the spot he initially started in last year: right guard. That leaves things wide open for Tennessee football at left guard.
Arguably the favorite to start there is Jahmir Johnson. A three-star junior college transfer last year, the redshirt junior started 11 of 12 games at the left guard spot. So he has the most experience starting there.
Then there’s Riley Locklear. UT’s breakout young guard in 2017, Locklear started early last year after Kennedy’s injury forced Ryan Johnson over to center. However, Locklear then got hurt, and that moved Nathan Niehaus into the guard spot for the final six games.
As a result, there is plenty of experience for the Vols at guard among these three guys. However, K’Rojhn Calbert, with Locklear still limited, began to stand out in the spring. And Jerome Carvin still has the most raw talent of all of them.
This leaves the other starting guard spot wide open, even if Jahmir Johnson is the favorite. While the unit struggled last year, there are clearly lots of bodies in the system, and some of them are bound to stand out.
Now, given the additions Jeremy Pruitt got at tackle, there’s a chance he moves Trey Smith back to guard if Smith is cleared to play. And this would move from No. 2 to almost off the list. But that will depend on the final position battle on this list.