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How Many Starts Do the Vols Return at Each Position?

Defensive Line

Photo Credit: Will Boling/RTI

Total: 13 starts

Kyle Phillips – 8 (29)
Shy Tuttle – 5 (23)

The stats for Tennessee’s defensive line are a little skewed considering a few defensive linemen are now playing as linebackers in the Vols’ new defensive scheme. But even if players like Darrell Taylor and Jonathan Kongbo were still at defensive end, the Vols would still be a fairly inexperienced unit up front.

Seniors Kyle Phillips and Shy Tuttle are the only Tennessee defensive linemen who’ve started in their Vol careers. Tuttle has dealt with tons of injuries during his time with the Vols, and Phillips himself has also been banged up a couple times. But they’re the only two players with any sort of significant playing experience on Tennessee’s defensive line.

JUCO transfer Emmit Gooden will likely crack the two-deep and be the second defensive tackle when the Vols use two defensive tackles, and Alexis Johnson has been with the Vols for a couple years but just hasn’t started.

The rest of Tennessee’s defensive linemen, however, are either inexperienced sophomores or true freshmen.

The good news is that Tennessee shouldn’t have to dip too much into their defensive line depth this year unless injuries happen. But injuries have struck the Vols’ linemen several times over the last couple years, so that’s far from a guarantee.

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