Editor's note: This is the eighth story in a series previewing Tennessee football before spring practices begin Tuesday.
Jeremy Pruitt would love to have 16 to 18 scholarship offensive linemen available this spring, but the first-year head coach will have to get by with considerably fewer during the next month.
A total of 13 scholarship and walk-on offensive linemen are listed on the Volunteers' 2018 spring roster, and two players in the 2018 signing class enrolled early to participate in spring practices. But the number of healthy scholarship offensive linemen may be as low as eight because several players are working through injuries in an effort to be ready for the 2018 season.
The low numbers offer an opportunity for freshmen Tanner Antonutti and Ollie Lane to receive immediate practice repetitions as the two get a head start on fellow 2018 signees Jerome Carvin and Jahmir Johnson, who will join the program this summer.
The offensive line's health could be among the key factors in how the coaching staff decides the format of the annual spring game, which is set for April 21. Pruitt would like to play a standard football game with two full teams. That won't happen without at least 10 healthy offensive linemen, walk-ons included, available to fill out the rosters.
Rising star Trey Smith will be out of spring practice because of an undisclosed medical condition, while K'Rojhn Calbert and Chance Hall will not participate or will be limited as they rehabilitate from knee surgeries.
The health of Hall and Smith moving forward after spring practices will be vital to the 2018 outlook for an offensive line looking for a fresh start with a new coaching staff after an inconsistent 2017 campaign.
Contact David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.
Tennessee football preview
- Offensive line's health an issue for Vols' spring practices
- Ty Chandler is front-runner for top spot at running back
- Alontae Taylor part of Vols' fresh start for wide receivers
- Spring just the beginning for Vols' football competition
- Vols have key spots to fill on special teams
- Healthy Shy Tuttle may be top candidate for Vols' nose tackle
- Vols coaches plan to cross-train linebackers
- Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt confident in cornerbacks despite attrition