Tennessee football offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy is on the Rimington Trophy preseason Watch List. If he gets it, the Volunteers will win the SEC East.
It was one of the biggest surprises of the preseason. A Tennessee football offensive lineman being on any preseason watch list made no sense after last year, when the unit was historically bad as a whole and then lost its best blocker.
What’s more shocking, though, is that the one player from the historically bad unit to make a preseason watch list was a guy who is coming off a season-ending injury. Brandon Kennedy, who figures to resume his role as a starting center this year, was knocked out for the year after just one game against the West Virginia Mountaineers.
However, the former Alabama Crimson Tide lineman is on the Rimington Trophy Preseason Watch List for the nation’s best center. Even if Kennedy is great, standing out at center requires competency from the rest of the line, and that’s something that was seriously lacking last year.
So let’s make this clear. Kennedy is not likely to come close to winning the Rimington Trophy. But if he does, then Tennessee football will be SEC East champions. Yes, it will signify that drastic of an improvement for the Vols offensive line.
Advanced data shows that Jarrett Guarantano is actually a very efficient and good quarterback. The eye test shows that Ty Chandler and Marquez Callaway are elite weapons. And production proves Jauan Jennings is a heck of a receiver.
Meanwhile, we know there is potential with Dominick Wood-Anderson and Josh Palmer, and Jim Chaney being back can only maximize the offense. So the only question has been if Tennessee football’s line can be competent enough to help these weapons.
Well, if Kennedy wins the Rimington, that will mean it was more than just competent. It will signify a drastically improved line, one that, had the Vols had it last year, would have allowed them to beat the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs.
In fact, Kennedy being on this watch list shows just how much potential the line has. What if he lives up to that hype, Trey Smith returns, and Darnell Wright lives up to his recruiting hype? All of a sudden, you have something to work with, especially with Ryan Johnson being able to move back to the interior.
At that point, with four guys, Jeremy Pruitt has a great start on a much better line. He should be able to have enough for a competent eight-man rotation then with guys like Wanya Morris, Jahmir Johnson, Jerome Carvin, Riley Locklear, K’Rojhn Calber and Marcus Tatum in the mix.
Simply put, Kennedy winning the Rimington will be a huge deal for Tennessee football. If he does it, then the Vols’ line will have been great enough to beat either Florida or Georgia and get to 10-2 on the year. That’s not likely to happen, to be clear. In fact, it’s almost impossible. But it’s what would come with a Rimington Trophy on Rocky Top for 2019.