Wherever you might’ve placed Emmit Gooden on your “least afford to lose” list, his presence there at all speaks to the problem of his out-for-the-season absence. Two things we’ve been saying all off-season:
- Defensive line is a bigger question mark than offensive line, because at least some of those guys on the OL played meaningful snaps and you’re bringing in five-star freshmen.
- Other than those offensive tackles, there’s nowhere any newcomers have to step in and lead right away.
Well, now the first part is even more true, and the second part is probably a lie.
Darnell Wright and Wanya Morris are Tennessee’s two highest-rated signees. You have to go further down the list to get to Savion Williams, Darel Middleton, and Elijah Simmons. If you’re looking for good news, that’s two JUCOs and an 18-year old that looks like this:
(Like me and my almost-two-year-old son, that dude’s head circumference is in the 100th percentile. “He’s so good he doesn’t need a neck!” – Idiot Optimist by next week, probably.)
So, potential remains on the defensive line for Tennessee. Now you just need it to show up immediately.
The only good thing about early fall camp injuries is the amount of time you have to get over them before facing live fire. More newcomers (hopefully including Aubrey Solomon) will get more reps, along with important returning pieces like Matthew Butler, and we’ll re-calibrate as best we’re able.
But it’s okay to say, 3+ weeks from kickoff, that this sucks. Especially because it keeps happening to one of those defensive guys on the least afford to lose list.
Butch Jones is long gone, so we can say this without it sounding like an unnecessary defense of him: this is the fourth time in five years the Vols have lost one of their best defensive players for the year before the calendar hits October:
- 2015: Curt Maggitt, Week 2
- 2016: Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Week 3
- 2017: Darrin Kirkland Jr., fall camp
- 2019: Emmit Gooden, fall camp
You can argue whatever percentage you like between bad luck and the revolving door to the strength and conditioning department, but still…man. These posts are getting old.