It is Ollie Lane’s time to shine.
Tennessee center Cooper Mays will be out of action for at least two weeks after undergoing a “minor procedure” last week, which was announced by Vols’ coach Josh Heupel following Tennessee’s first scrimmage of preseason camp. There are a number of players vying for first-team snaps during Mays’ absence, such as Parker Ball, Ollie Lane, Vysen Lang and Addison Nichols.
So far, it seems as if Lane has the early edge. He’s been the main go-to for times in which Mays hasn’t been able to practice this fall. UT tight end Jacob Warren knows Lane well. The two have been close friends since being roommates together after they signed with the Vols in 2018.
“Ollie has just been one of those guys that has just been around a long time, has seen a lot of things, knows a lot of stuff, is extremely smart in the same way that Cooper is…truly just a guy that works hard and cares a lot about the university,” Warren said. “We were talking yesterday and he just talks about, ‘Man, like this place is everything to me, kind of similar to how it is with me, right?”
Warren and Lane, who attended Gibbs High School in Corryton, Tenn., actually played each other long ago – in another sport. Recalling middle school basketball games, Warren jokingly said that Lane just fouled a lot during those days.
“Man, massive human, right? Really big dude,” Warren said of Lane, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds.
While Warren, who attended Farragut (Tenn.) High School, is aware of what Lane can do, most Tennessee fans are not. That’s because Lane, who is entering his sixth season as a Vol, has only played in 28 games and started just five contests since signing with Tennessee. Be it talent or whatever, it’s natural to wonder if Lane is SEC ready after not playing very much during a six-year run in Knoxville.
Mimicking Mays won’t be easy for Lane or whoever eventually may have to fill in if Mays is out for an extended period of time. It’s certainly worth noting that Tennessee coach Josh Heupel mentioned a two-week timeline when he spoke about Mays’ return. In the meantime, the Vols will lose one of their most tenacious players during fall camp
“Nasty is a good word,” Warren said. “And not even in a bad way. This is the one time where you can truly go out, put your hands on another man, try to beat him up. Right? Try to do everything you can to put him on the ground, throw him down, not hurt him, not be dirty, but just be really, really physical, really aggressive, really nasty. He plays the game that way.”
That may be asking a lot from Lane. Nevertheless, if he’s to make an impact with Mays on the sideline, this is clearly his time.