Updated at 11:09 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, 2018.
KNOXVILLE — The addition of a graduate transfer from Alabama and a rule change made by the NCAA Division I Council this week could help bolster Tennessee's depth at a critical position for the 2018 football season.
Brandon Kennedy, a former backup center for the Crimson Tide, will enroll at Tennessee this summer, according to multiple reports Thursday. VolQuest was the first to report Kennedy's expected enrollment, which comes as welcome news for an offensive line that is short on healthy and experienced players.
Additionally, the council's decision Wednesday to allow players to participate in up to four games in a season without sacrificing a year of eligibility means Tennessee can allow younger offensive linemen a limited amount of playing time in 2018 without burning a potential redshirt season for them.
With questions remaining about the health of starting offensive linemen Chance Hall and Trey Smith, the rule change could come in handy for the the Volunteers, who were forced to start true freshman Jerome Carvin on the first-team offensive line during April's spring game.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt offered support for the rule this spring, when it was just a proposal.
"Say it's an offensive-line position, and you have a bunch of guys that get hurt," Pruitt said. "You've got to play with five offensive linemen, so you put the guy in and he plays two games. I think that helps from that standpoint. So I'm not against it."
The rule could also allow for redshirt candidates to play during blowout games to gain experience and lessen the risk of injury for first- and second-team players.
Kennedy, it seems, will have a realistic shot at gaining significant playing time early during his time in Knoxville.
The former four-star prospect has a limited amount of Southeastern Conference playing experience and appears to have three seasons of eligibility remaining. He enrolled at Alabama in time for spring practice in 2015 and took a redshirt his first season before playing in seven games as a reserve in 2016. As a redshirt sophomore this past season, he suffered a season-ending foot injury after appearing in three games as the backup center.
Kennedy's profile on Alabama's spring roster says he was awarded a medical redshirt for the 2017 campaign, meaning he would be classified as a redshirt sophomore again in 2018.
He became the face of a saga in recent months over whether players should be allowed to change schools within the Southeastern Conference as graduate transfers without having to sit out a season. The SEC approved a rule change earlier this month at the league's spring meetings in Destin, Florida, that cleared the way for Kennedy to transfer within the conference and be able to play right away. He also was considering Auburn.
Contact David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.