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Vols Position Preview: Offensive Line

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

Seniors: None healthy
Juniors: Drew Richmond, Marcus Tatum,
Sophomores: Riley Locklear, Nathan Niehaus, Ryan Johnson, K’Rojhn Calbert, Devante Brooks
Freshman: Jerome Carvin, Ollie Lane


A new offensive scheme will change the way the offensive line has been accustomed to blocking. Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton plans on a physical, smashmouth offense. The success of such an offense will rely heavily on the play of the offensive line. The switch could be beneficial as it will allow players to be more physical and rely less on athleticism.

There will be a lot of unknowns at offensive line this spring. The Vols’ two best lineman, Chance Hall and Trey Smith, will both miss spring ball for health reasons.

Hall should be back for camp, which is a necessity as he should start this year. But Smith’s status is up in the air, and very little is known about his current health condition. He did, however, work out last week.

This will be a very important spring for Drew Richmond. He’s had lofty expectations from the day he stepped on campus, and this new coaching staff could finally help him meet those. He has played significantly in his first two years with the Vols and has at times shown flashes of the heralded recruit he was. Most of the time, however, he has just been average.

The Vols desperately need Richmond to take the next step in his development in an offensive line group that lacks experience. This staff could very well help him reach that, and they will certainly toughen him up.

Marcus Tatum played in two games as a freshman and started the season opener last year with Richmond suspended. He is a consistent player, though he has never really stood out either. He still has plenty of room to grow and needs to put a little more weight on, but he is an intriguing player to watch come spring.

There are a lot of sophomores in the offensive line room. This spring, they will all be competing with each other. There is a great opportunity to make a name for themselves with Hall and Smith out. Nathan Niehaus and Ryan Johnson are the clear names to watch, but keep an eye on K’Rojhn Calbert to make a good impression. He is a big, strong player that could really excel in this offense. Brooks and Locklear are solid players as well.

Ollie Lane and Jerome Carvin will both be there this spring as early enrollees. Lane still has a long way to go before he is ready to see the field, but keep a lookout for Carvin. With a good spring, he could potentially establish himself as a second string lineman as a true freshman.

Initial Depth Chart:

I couldn’t tell you who will play where at this point, but it will be a combination of these five, with plenty of others rotating: Richmond, Tatum, Johnson, Niehaus, and Calbert. When Smith and Hall return, both of them will assume a starting role. JUCO tackle Jahmir Johnson will also have a good chance to start when he arrives this summer.

Check out our previous position preview piece on the Vols’ defensive line

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