The potential for Tennessee’s offense in 2024 changed in a big way last month when the Vols landed LSU offensive tackle transfer Lance Heard.
Heard was a five-star prospect in the 2023 class who served as a backup for LSU last fall.
No one in Baton Rouge questioned his ability to play in the SEC.
But Heard was likely going to be a backup for the Tigers again in 2024 due to their starting tackles returning.
So he transferred to Tennessee, which offered Heard a starting position right away.
According to ESPN college football analyst Cole Cubelic, a former offensive lineman at Auburn, landing Heard was big news for Tennessee.
He explained on the Cube Show:
“Please don’t discount this as a massive, massive get for Tennessee. This is huge. He individually is huge. He’s like 6-8, 340. But you had a guy in Gerald Mincey, who for whatever reason wanted to be the backup left tackle for a while last year, (then) finally wanted to be the starting right tackle, says he’s going to come back, announces how great the Tennessee collective is, and then for whatever reason now he’s out to go play at Kentucky. He’s a good get for Kentucky just because they didn’t have a tackle opposite of Marques Cox, so that throws sort of Kentucky into this mix as well.
But Lance Heard is a massive human being who can move, who can change direction. He’s just a back bender and his punch is a little bit inconsistent. But if he can work on his lower body flexibility – and keep in mind in this tempo-based offense, he’s not gonna be asked to stay engaged as long, just based on what they’re doing.”
So landing Heard will help solidify one of Tennessee’s tackle positions.
Don’t be surprised if he plays left tackle with John Campbell Jr. sliding over to the right side of the offensive line.
Cubelic explained how that can improve Tennessee’s offense as a whole.
“This could totally change Tennessee‘s outlook for this season. … This solidifies both tackle spots with John Campbell. So you’ve got Lance Heard and John Campbell. You’ve got Cooper Mays now back at center. Javontez Spraggins … it’s good to have him back. He’s gotta cut down on the penalties but he’s a good college football player, plays his ass off, can be fun to watch. It’s just the flags have got to get cut down. But that’s a ton of experience that we just rolled off in general. And the better news is when Tennessee got to the second group last year, it was a massive drop off, almost as big a drop off as I’ve seen as anywhere else. So to be able to have guys that can solidify a few of those spots and now potentially make this a strength is really good news for the Vols in that Tennessee offense.”
It’s an offense that will be led by quarterback Nico Iamaleava, who will be a “first-year starter,” but has starting experience from Tennessee’s bowl win.
And Cubelic offered confidence in the skill position players around Iamaleava.
“They’ll be fine at receiver. Bru Mccoy now coming back. You hope he can get back to what he was – tough injury – but hope he can get there. You’re fine at tailback. You’ve got some numbers at tight end. So this offense could go if Nico is ready to make it be just that.”
Lance Heard is just one player in Tennessee’s offense.
But he could have a positive impact on all the players he’ll join with the Vols.