Advertise with usContact UsRTI Team

Tennessee Solidifies Offensive Tackle Spots Ahead Of Iamaleava’s First Year As Starter

Gerald Mincey.
Tennessee RT Gerald Mincey. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

The immediate future of the Tennessee football program depends on the right arm of freshman quarterback Nico Iamaleava. The former five-star quarterback will step into a starting role next season and will spend at least two years as the Vols’ signal caller.

In the first stretch of the offseason, Josh Heupel and his staff have solidified his protection.

Starting right tackle Gerald Mincey announced that he’s returning to Tennessee for his redshirt senior season on Monday night. Mincey’s announcement came a week after starting left tackle John Campbell Jr. announced his intentions to return to Knoxville for his seventh and final year of collegiate eligibility.

Neither player was perfect during the 2023 season and both missed short portions of the season with injuries. But both were solid SEC offensive tackles.

Tennessee’s pass protection held up better than many, including myself, expected in 2023 following Darnell Wright’s departure to the NFL and it was in large part due to Campbell and Mincey who allowed one and two sacks respectively in a combined 1,048 snaps played.

The duo returning for one final season is just as important because of the lack of depth behind them. Backup offensive tackle Jeremiah Crawford is out of eligibility and Dayne Davis could also elect to move on. Tennessee doesn’t have any young offensive tackles on its roster that appear close to being ready to start in the SEC.

More From RTI: Examining The Status Of Tennessee’s Secondary After Major Portal Departures

That means Tennessee would have had to turn to the transfer portal to replace either Mincey or Campbell. It’s not impossible to find starting offensive tackles in the portal. In fact, both Campbell (Miami) and Mincey (Florida) are transfers but offensive tackle is one of the hardest positions to find starting quality players at in the portal and it can be costly to land them.

Josh Heupel and his staff getting Campbell and Mincey back allows them to invest their time and resources at other positions; notably tight end while also potentially adding a dynamic receiver for Iamaleava.

Now Tennessee turns its attention to the interior of its offensive line where center Cooper Mays and right guard Javontez Spraggins each have one year of eligibility remaining. The duo were the Vols’ two best offensive linemen last season and were a major part of Tennessee’s stout rushing attack.

Both Mays and Spraggins were seniors in 2023 but did not go through Senior Day festivities, indicating that each are at least considering returning for another season.

While Tennessee doesn’t know about the interior of its offensively line yet, the Vols have secured the book ends of the offensive line that will protect Iamaleava in his first season as Tennessee’s starting quarterback. That’s a major win as Tennessee builds its 2024 roster.

Similar Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet Us