1. Caleb Tremblay
Experience is an advantage on the defensive line this year, and Josh Heupel was looking for that in the transfer portal. He must have known certain transfers were coming. Anyway, Caleb Tremblay was a big pickup from the USC Trojans, and expect him to start in the other defensive tackle spot, which is more relevant now since it will be in the middle more often with the switch to a 4-3.
Tremblay only played in four games last year during the odd COVID season that took place in the Pac-12. In 2019, though, he had 16 tackles, 10 of which were solo, three tackles for a loss and two sacks. This year, the 6’5″ 280-pound fifth-year senior should be a major playmaker for Tennessee football in the middle, and he’ll immediately land a starting spot at a deep position.
2. Kurott Garland
Less than a year ago, we would have predicted that Greg Emerson had this spot. However, Kurott Garland emerged in such a way that Emerson entered the transfer portal this past offseason. As a result, Garland, who entered the portal himself in 2019 before returning, will take the role.
This is more of a by-committee position. Tremblay will split time with the 6’3″ 310-pound redshirt junior, as both have proven himself. Experience by a year is the only thing favoring Tremblay. Over the past two years, in splitting time, Garland has 40 tackles and three tackles for a loss. That’s in a 3-4 that’s not conducive to DT play either. He and Tremblay should make a solid combo here.