As we have been stressing all offseason, defensive line was a major concern for Tennessee football. The losses of Alexis Johnson, Shy Tuttle and Kyle Phillips were bad enough. Paul Bain leaving hurt when it came to depth as well.
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But the season-ending injury to Emmit Gooden and the NCAA waiting to grant an eligibility waiver to Michigan Wolverines transfer Aubrey Solomon has only made things worse. Even the junior college route Jeremy Pruitt went with Savion Williams and Darel Middleton couldn’t replace all of that. Somebody on the roster would have to step up.
That somebody has been Greg Emerson. Once a four-star recruit, Emerson took a redshirt in 2018. Now, at 6’3″ 309 pounds, he exploded onto the scene this fall camp and is now a favorite to be the centerpiece in the middle. Sure, Pruitt listed as him or Kingston Harris or Elijah Simmons as the guy to start at nose tackle.
But if you read what happened in the offseason, Emerson is clearly the guy. Patrick Brown of GoVols247 wrote about Emerson making the “loudest” response to Gooden’s injury, and Tracy Rocker has touted him more than anybody else. It’s clear that he has emerged among all of them.
Guys like Harris, Simmons and even Kurrott Garland, who entered the transfer portal but came back, will provide depth. Williams and Middleton are also key players. But Emerson is the standout star for Tennessee football in fall camp, and as a result, he is the biggest winner.