The bigger question is what lies beyond the starters and who might emerge among a group of linemen the Vols have signed the last three years? Players like Chase Nelson, Jared Shaw, Victor Thomas, William Brimfield, Donald Langley that were inked as D-line help have an opportunity to lay claim to some serious PT.
Injuries among the tackles aren't unusual and you need a rotation that offers both quality and variety. Translation: you must have five battle-ready tackles and several others in accelerated development. Because the Vols didn't sign a single qualified tackle in the Class of 2008 the onus is completely on returning veterans.
None of this is new to Phillip Fulmer & Co. and that's why the Vols are trying to get immediate help from the Junior College ranks. We recently profiled one such prospect in 6-foot-2, 320-pound Hubron Fangupo of Mount San Antonio CC in Walnut California who runs a 5.1 time in the 40.
Although the Vols aren't currently involved with a tackle that's likely to help as a true freshman. Of course there are only a few tackle prospects capable of going from high school football fields to the killing fields of the SEC in a single bound.
In absence of a ready supply of top tier tackle talent UT is looking for prospects on the rise that offer enough in the way of quickness, athleticism and intensity to compensate for the strength and experience they'll need to develop.
An excellent example is Anthony Orr of Sparkman High School in Harvest, Ala. Rated No. 38 nationally at his position he has grown into a 6-4, 261-pound defensive end with 4.8 speed. He projects as a tackle at the next level despite a standout junior season in which he he recorded 60 tackles and seven sacks.
A member of Scout.com's South Top 150, Orr currently reports 10 offers including Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Clemson. LSU, Florida and Georgia are all recruiting Orr and offers could be coming. Orr indicates he may not make a decision until 2009 and perhaps wait until signing day.
He visited UT for the spring game last month and came away impressed.
"The visit to Tennessee went great," Orr told Scout.com analyst Andrew Bone. "I liked their spring game. I was very impressed. They had about 20-30,000 fans at the game. The player who really stood out to me was the defensive end, Wes Brown. He is from Athens. I thought he did good."
Orr also visited with defensive coordinator John Chavis and Coach Fulmer, who both commented on what a good fit Orr was for UT's system.
"It was my first time to meet them," he continued. "I liked them a lot. They were straight up with me on everything. I know it's a good school. I like their football program especially the defense."
Adding a little Iron Orr in the trenches could make that defense a lot more likable.