The Tennessee Vols went 16-19 in three years under Jeremy Pruitt for a litany of reasons.
One of those reasons was because the Vols’ offensive line didn’t play very well under Pruitt and former UT offensive line coach Will Friend.
The Vols recruited well — landing two five-star offensive linemen in Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright — but the offensive line consistently failed to live up to the hype (especially this past season).
It’s tough to be successful in the SEC without an offensive line that performs at a high level. The hope under new offensive line coach Glen Elarbee is that Tennessee’s offensive line will at least play to their potential.
So far, it appears that Elarbee is doing a good job of getting the most out of his players — specifically sophomore offensive lineman Cooper Mays.
Mays, who is the younger brother of senior offensive lineman Cade Mays, is making considerable strides this spring under Elarbee.
“Cooper has made a big-time leap,” said Elarbee on Tuesday during a media session with reporters. “I think one in his footwork and base. You go back and look at the first couple of practices just where he was in the run game to where he is now. He enjoys it every single day.”
“The guy has juice, he has energy,” added Elarbee. “I think he is trying to fix and be a better player every day. His technique, body position, hands. Whatever it is you ask, he tries to go work on it and get it fixed.”
This is obviously great news for Tennessee. Mays, who started two games at center for the Vols as a true freshman in 2020, is the likely replacement for center Brandon Kennedy in 2021 (Kennedy is off to the NFL after six years of college football, split between Alabama and Tennessee).
Mays is an extremely important player for the Vols. The Knoxville native is someone who can develop into a key team leader for the program. He’s also someone who deeply understands the rich history and tradition of UT football, which should assist him in his efforts to be a leader in the locker room.
The Vols are heading in the right direction under new head coach Josh Heupel, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before Tennessee gets to where it wants to be.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications