While offensive line is the historically bad position from 2018 that needed immediate upgrading, defensive line was the best unit on 2018…and still needs a ton of upgrading. Tennessee football lost all three starters on the defensive line in Alexis Johnson, Kyle Phillips and Shy Tuttle. They also lost a reliable backup in Paul Bain.
Then, this fall camp, the Vols just happened to lose the one proven defensive lineman returning in Emmit Gooden. Jeremy Pruitt went the junior college route to build depth here, adding Savion Williams and Darel Middleton. He also added Michigan Wolverines transfer Aubrey Solomon. Finally, has redshirt freshmen in Kingston Harris and Greg Emerson to provide bodies.
But Solomon still has to wait on his NCAA eligibility waiver. Another redshirt freshman, Kurrott Garland, is in the transfer portal. That leaves only Williams, Middleton, Harris, Emerson and Elijah Simmons as potential bodies on the defensive line. And there are two defensive tackle spots. There’s a very decent chance, then, of Simmons stealing a spot.
A three-star in-state prospect, Simmons provides nose tackle potential with his incredible size. In fact, it’s unique enough that you could see him thrown into rotations regardless of who wins the starting spots. Jeremy Pruitt has been targeting size for a while, an Simmons brings that size. So he’s on the list.