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Friday Top 10: Defensive Line Targets

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While Tennessee’s defensive line looks to be in good shape heading into 2016, perhaps no other position in college football needs to be reloaded as frequently.

So while the defensive line could be a strength for UT in 2016, there are already some areas of concern in 2017 and 2018 upfront. That makes this class of D-linemen important, especially since the Vols only signed a pair last year in Jonathan Kongbo and Alexis Johnson, and Johnson’s status is uncertain going forward as he continues to be suspended indefinitely.

Defensive tackle, in particular, should be an area of focus in this class. The Vols have just five active scholarship DTs right now in Danny O’Brien, Kendal Vickers, Shy Tuttle, Kahlil McKenzie and Quay Picou. O’Brien and Vickers are a senior and a junior, respectively. Tuttle and McKenzie have NFL early-entry potential and Picou is largely unproven to this point.

Defensive end is a bit more situated, but still needs some reinforcements. Corey Vereen and LaTroy Lewis are gone after 2016. There’s a very high likelihood that Derek Barnett will declare early for the NFL Draft and follow them out the door. There’s a nice younger pipeline there with Kongbo, Kyle Phillips, Darrell Taylor, Austin Smith and Andrew Butcher all waiting to step up, but depth is always at a premium.

Expect the Vols to focus on the defensive front in this class and add at least a couple true interior defensive linemen and some edge rushers as well.

Here are 10 names to know in defensive line recruiting this cycle:

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