Starters (DE/NT/DT): Darel Middleton (Sr.), Emmit Gooden (R-Sr.), Aubrey Solomon (Sr.)
Tennessee has eight upperclassmen along its defensive line — seven of which are seniors. The two veterans who are near-locks to start are Emmit Gooden and Aubrey Solomon. Gooden was expected to be one of the two starting tackles last season, but he tore his ACL during preseason camp. The Tennessee native now figures to play a key role along the defensive front in 2020 and should pair well with Solomon. The Michigan transfer got off to a slow start last offseason, but came on strong as the season progressed, especially against the run.
As for the third starting spot at defensive end, a trio of players could earn the job over the summer and throughout fall camp. Darel Middleton, Matthew Butler, and LaTrell Bumphus are all capable of earning the starting role. All three will see plenty of playing time regardless of who plays the first snap.
Pruitt will use a committee to man his defensive end position in his 3-4 defense. The same can be said for the two tackle positions up front behind Solomon and Gooden. Those two will start, but Greg Emerson, Kurott Garland, and Ja’Quain Blakely will also receive plenty of playing time.
The young names to watch up front are Elijah Simmons, Omari Thomas, and Dominic Bailey. Bailey enrolled early and may be a likely candidate for a redshirt, but the staff is hopeful Simmons can contribute at nose tackle after redshirting last season and that Thomas is ready to play from day one.
Second-Team: Matthew Butler (Sr.), Greg Emerson (R-So.), Kurott Garland (R-So.),
Third-Team: LaTrell Bumphus (Sr.), Ja’Quain Blakely (R-Sr.), Savion Williams (Sr.)
Fourth-Team: John Mincey (Jr.), Elijah Simmons (R-Fr.), Omari Thomas (Fr.),
Other Options: Dominic Bailey (Fr.), RJ Perry (Fr.)