Defensive line is obviously a huge issue with the losses of Kyle Phillips, Alexis Johnson, Shy Tuttle and even Paul Bain. But the one defensive end spot on the line is really an issue since Tennessee football has very few proven bodies there.
The most standout among those guys in the spring was Matthew Butler, which is why he is on this list. The 6’4″ 285-pound lineman played in nine games last year and did register 13 tackles and a tackle for a loss.
Taking that into account, he certainly has the most experience of anybody trying to play defensive end. And with Emmit Gooden’s season-ending injury, he now has the most experience of anybody on the defensive line in general. As a result, he should be destined for a breakout season.
Sure, John Mincey is competition for Butler, as are Ja’Quain Blakely and LaTrell Bumphus. But this spot is Butler’s to lose, and none of those guys should have enough proven experience or hype to be able to take the job from Butler. As a result, Butler should be the guy to shine for Jeremy Pruitt and Tracy Rocker up front this year. He’s got limited competition and a ton of potential.