Tennessee O-line coach Elarbee happy to have Carvin after all

Tennessee Athletics photo by Kate Luffman / Tennessee senior offensive lineman Jerome Carvin, who has played primarily guard for the Volunteers, gets in some work earlier this month at center.

In the fall of 2017, Glen Elarbee was Missouri's offensive line coach, and Jerome Carvin was a four-star tackle prospect out of Cordova High School near Memphis.

The two developed a nice recruiter-recruit relationship, but Carvin ultimately committed to Tennessee that December and was among the eight early enrollees in Jeremy Pruitt's first signing class. Elarbee would leave Mizzou along with Josh Heupel, who spent two seasons as offensive coordinator of the Tigers before heading Central Florida's program during the 2018-20 seasons, and he followed Heupel again in January after Tennessee had tabbed Heupel to replace the terminated Pruitt.

Thus bringing Elarbee and Carvin, now a senior for the Volunteers, together four years later than Elarbee desired.

"He's talked to me about how everything has come full circle," a smiling Carvin said this week on a Zoom call. "He's a big family guy, and as an O-line coach, he is very detail oriented. He harps on the little things like most O-line coaches do, but he really emphasizes small, detailed things that can separate yourself and boost your level of play.

"He recruited me really hard when I was coming out of high school, and I decided to come to Tennessee, but we've kind of picked up where we left off. It has come full circle."

Elarbee knew he missed out on a productive player, which Carvin certainly has been during his time in Knoxville. As a freshman in 2018, the 6-foot-5, 313-pounder played in all 12 games and made six starts - five at right guard and one at left guard, which happened to be in the 58-21 loss to top-ranked Alabama inside Neyland Stadium.

When Tennessee had its closing surge in 2019 that yielded a Gator Bowl win over Indiana, Carvin made seven consecutive starts at right guard, and he made four more starts at right guard last season. Despite the Vols struggling to a 3-7 record in 2020, Carvin played 119 snaps without allowing a single sack.

Carvin spent his first three seasons at Tennessee with Will Friend as his position coach, but his previous relationship with Elarbee may be the only dose of familiarity he has this spring in a completely new offense that is based on rapid tempo.

"Everything has been going great," Carvin said. "It was a transition early on, and we had to learn a new playbook, but we've taken strides. We're having to learn things quickly. We're using different footwork than a normal pro-style offense will have, and that's probably been the biggest thing that's different.

"Otherwise, it's just football."

Carvin continues to work in the interior, getting reps at guard but also at center, where sophomore Cooper Mays is getting most of the first-team work. Though the fast-paced attack has its challenges from a stamina standpoint, it also can offer great rewards, which he has discovered.

"When we get the up-tempo rolling, you can really see the defense faltering," Carvin said with another smile. "It's taking a toll on them. As an offensive lineman, when I see a defensive lineman getting tired, there is a joy."

There is joy in Elarbee having five offensive linemen with multiple career starts - Carvin, Cade and Cooper Mays, K'Rojhn Calbert and Darnell Wright - which has made the transition to Heupel's offense easier than it would have been with less experience back. It's also evident Elarbee is happy to work with Carvin later rather than never.

"I'm really excited I get to coach him," Elarbee said. "He has played guard and center, and he has adjusted really well. He is highly intelligent. The one time you tell him something, he has it, and he's got a genuineness about him that guys listen to.

"He's been awesome. I can't say enough good things about him."

Sneed commits

Tennessee picked up its second commitment in as many days Thursday, receiving a nonbinding pledge from defensive end Venson Sneed of Winter Park, Florida. The 6-4, 231-pound Sneed is the nation's No. 39 strongside defensive end and No. 591 overall recruit, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings.

The three-star prospect picked the Vols over scholarship offers from Kentucky, Indiana, Pittsburgh, UCF and West Virginia.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.