After missing the end of last season due to blood clots, Tennessee football has Trey Smith back. The Volunteers offensive lineman is cleared to play.
One day after Tennessee football got defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon cleared to play by the NCAA, the Vols got their best offensive lineman medically cleared to play. Trey Smith, who has dealt with blood clots for two years now, is good to go.
The university announced Wednesday that Smith has been medically cleared to play for the season-opener against the Georgia State Panthers. He was listed as one of two potential starters at left guard along with Riley Locklear.
In 2017, Smith achieved freshman All-American honors for Tennessee football while starting at guard. Then he was held out of contact drills in the offseason during Jeremy Pruitt’s first year due to the blood clots before being cleared to play last year.
Pruitt and Tyson Helton moved Smith over to left tackle and started him there for the first seven games. However, the blood clots returned just before they faced the South Carolina Gamecocks, and he missed the rest of the season.
How ready Smith is to go may be a question. However, he was able to practice with the team in limited drills throughout the offseason so he should still be in full shape. It can’t be understated how big of a deal this is.
Smith was UT’s best offensive lineman the last two years before being held out last November. The 6’5″ 325-pound junior can play anywhere, and working with Jim Chaney this offseason has likely made him even better.
With the arrivals of Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright and the development of Marcus Tatum, Smith has also been able to move back to his true position, guard. That’s a big step for the Vols to show dramatic improvement on their offensive line, which was historically bad last year.
Now, the coaches truly do have a 10-man rotation up front. And with Brandon Kennedy healthy to play center, which allows Ryan Johnson to move back over to guard, the interior offensive line should be dramatically improved from last year.
More from Vols Football
- How to Win a GUARANTEED $200 Bonus Betting Just $5 on the Vols vs. Florida!
- Tennessee Football at Florida: Five Keys to a Vols Victory
- Week 3 SEC Power Rankings: Did Tennessee Football’s Win Help At All?
- Week 3 AP Polls: Why Did Tennessee Football Drop in the Polls?
- Tennessee Football: Top Five Performers in 30-13 Win vs. Austin Peay
In the trenches in general, Tennessee football has shored up some major concerns. The Vols needed all the help they could get on the offensive line given how bad it was last year, and that involved Smith being medically cleared to play.
Meanwhile, the defensive line, after being the best unit on the team last year but losing all three starters in Alexis Johnson, Shy Tuttle and Kyle Phillips, took an even bigger hit when the only proven returner, Emmit Gooden, suffered a season-ending injury. So they desperately needed Solomon, a Michigan Wolverines transfer, to be cleared.
Both of those things have now happened within a day of each other. Pruitt’s goal of getting better on the line of scrimmage is now beginning to take shape, and given the bad news surrounding Gooden and Bryce Thompson, these are huge deals.
Dramatic improvement on the offensive line and offsetting the losses on the defensive line were the most important things for the Vols to have a turnaround season this year. Smith and Solomon being able to go is a big step to doing those two things.