The success of the Vols’ offense in 2014 will rest solely on the shoulders of their brand new offensive line.
After all five starters departed at the end of 2013, four seniors and an early-leave, Tennessee will have an entirely new bunch in the trenches coming into this season. Head coach Butch Jones has already began the process of shifting players to mold the perfect, or at least best he can make, offensive line for his second season as Tennessee’s football coach.
As of the end of spring camp it looks as if Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder, Kyler Kerbyson, Dylan Weisman, Austin Sanders, and Brett Kendrick may be the leaders to lead the way for the offense come August 31. Crowder and Kerbyson were the only ones of the five to see any playing time a year ago behind what most considered to be an all-pro offensive line. Jackson, Weisman, and Sanders all took redshirts.
Tennessee will also be awaiting three offensive lineman arrivals in the fall, the most notable is Dontavius Blair. Most consider the 6-foot-7, 300-pound four-star lineman out of Garden City, Kan. to come in and make an immediate impact for the Vols, and contend for a starting job in the fall.
Coleman Thomas could also be a key contributor once he arrives in the fall, but may not earn a starting position right away. Many also expect Charles Mosely, who was recruited as a defensive lineman, could be converted and used as an offensive lineman before the initial kickoff of the 2014 season.
The Vols are struggling in the offensive line department due to former coach Derek Dooley’s reluctancy to land any in his final recruiting class at Tennessee. That left the Vols in a bit of a hole they will have to dig they’re way out of, and will definitely make offensive lineman a top priority for Jones and his staff over the next couple of recruiting classes.
Although the Vols are looking solid at the skill positions with the talent returning from last year, plus the incoming freshmen of this year, their success on the offensive side of the ball will undoubtedly rest solely on the success or failure of the inexperienced offensive line in 2014.
One positive note for the inexperienced offensive line is although they don’t have the time on the playing field most would like to see, they do have a season under their belt in the new offensive system which could prove to be key, and will only benefit them as they continue to progress and move forward.
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Checkout the preview of Tennessee’s ongoing quarterback position battle here.