Let's not mince words here: Tennessee's offensive line wasn't the prettiest thing to look at in 2016.
The Vols didn't give up a ton of sacks (just 25 on the season) and Tennessee ranked in the middle of the SEC with just 72 tackles for loss given up. But there wasn't much continuity with a line that entered the season in flux and then dealt with injury after injury during the season.
So it isn't exactly a bold move to say the Vols need immediate help along the offensive line. More importantly, Tennessee needs immediate help at tackle. Thank goodness Butch Jones lured the No. 1 player in the nation to Knoxville. Offensive tackle Trey Smith enrolled early and all eyes will be on him from the get-go.
The Vols bring back Chance Hall and Drew Richmond at left tackle, but when you bring in the No. 1 tackle in the country, you better believe that this position is up for grabs. Richmond was once a big-time recruit for Jones, but he didn't always look comfortable at left tackle during his redshirt freshman season last year. There's a little more trust in Hall, who started six games last year, but from a pure talent standpoint, Smith has a much higher ceiling.
Smith doesn't have the experience, but he's very athletic for a tackle, and has incredibly fast feet. He'll need to gain some weight and make sure that that extra weight doesn't hinder his speed. Also, he doesn't have a choice but to make an immediate impact for the Vols. Tennessee has to shore up its left tackle spot, especially with a brand new quarterback taking over with Joshua Dobbs gone.
Is Smith a program-changing tackle? That's yet to be seen, but with him already on campus at a position of need, he'll have to ramp up his development ASAP. And even if he doesn't start, his presence and his ability to push those other two will only make the Vols better at the most important position along the offensive line.