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Way-Too-Early 2015 Depth Chart Projections

Derek Barnett-1-6

 Defensive Line

DE: 1. Derek Barnett 2. LaTroy Lewis/Kyle Phillips
DT: 1. Owen Williams 2. Kahlil McKenzie
DT: 1. Danny O’Brien 2. Trevarris Saulsberry/Shy Tuttle
DE: 1. Curt Maggitt 2. Corey Vereen

Thoughts: Man, what a difference a year makes. I’m not ready to call the Vols loaded here yet since a lot of the talent is still unproven, but they certainly have more depth and more options. McKenzie could be a Day 1 starter, but I’m going to stop short of calling that, just saying he’ll be a rotation guy for at least a while. Tennessee should have a chance to go at least 5-6 deep in the DT rotation if health is good. Defensive end is pretty stacked – especially if Maggitt works there primarily. He and Barnett might be the best tandem in the league and having guys like Phillips, Vereen, Lewis and others as backups is great depth. Kendal Vickers, Andrew Butcher and Dimarya Mixon should get great chances this spring and any of them could make a move.

DE: 1. Derek Barnett 2. Kyle Phillips
DT: 1. Kahlil McKenzie 2. Danny O’Brien
DT: 1. Owen Williams 2. Dimarya Mixon/Shy Tuttle
DE: 1. Curt Maggitt 2. Corey Vereen

Thoughts: What a difference a year makes from a depth perspective for this group. With the influx of young talent for 2015, I expect this group to have a much more productive year as a whole – even if individual numbers take a small dip. Derek Barnett and Curt Maggitt will destroy opposing tackles and draw double teams to free up guys on the interior. I do believe that Kahlil McKenzie will come in ready to start at defensive tackle – he is SEC ready right now from a physical standpoint – and I also think that Owen Williams (if healthy) will move beyond Danny O’Brien to take over the other DT spot. Williams is a physical freak who should really explode in 2015 as he learns the system and improves physically. This will be among the best defensive lines in the SEC.

DE: 1. Derek Barnett 2. LaTroy Lewis/Kyle Phillips
DT: 1. Kahlil McKenzie  2. Danny O’Brien
DT: 1. Owen Williams  2. Trevarris Saulsberry
DE: 1. Curt Maggitt 2. Corey Vereen

Thoughts: Tennessee finally has some depth along the defensive line. Maggitt and Barnett are locks to start (unless Maggitt plays more linebacker). Owen Williams was banged up last year but it good enough to play significant snaps at DT. McKenzie may not start from day one, but I’m willing to bet he’ll play more snaps than O’Brien or Saulsberry at one tackle spot. Shy Tuttle, especially since he’s already on campus, will have a great shot to crack the two-deep. Phillips is out for spring practice – that gives Lewis an edge in the battle for one backup DE spot. Expect much more rotation along the defensive line this year. There shouldn’t be a giant drop off in talent/production between the first and second string.

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