While offensive line is desperate after being historically bad last year, Tennessee football is even more desperate on the defensive line. The Vols lost all three starters in Alexis Johnson, Kyle Phillips and Shy Tuttle, they lost a backup in Paul Bain, and their only proven returner who was expected to start, Emmit Gooden, has now suffered a season-ending injury.
This is why Jeremy Pruitt went the transfer route with two junior college transfers and Michigan Wolverines transfer Aubrey Solomon, who is still waiting on approval to play from the NCAA. With that wait, the two junior college guys are both going to be crucial.
Darel Middleton, who is from Last Chance U just like Gooden, is one of those guys. Pruitt didn’t bring him in for nothing, and he got up to 311 pounds this offseason. Adding to his 6’7″ frame, that makes him the perfect tackle in the middle.
Middleton has also already begun to turn heads after a very strong first week of fall camp. So he’s going to be a guy in the rotation, and as a result, Jeremy Pruitt will probably rely on him a lot. That means he absolutely can’t get hurt because of how thin the position already is. And given his experience, it puts him on this list.