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Tennessee Football: NFL offensive lineman could help recruiting

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Tennessee football is well represented on the offensive line in the NFL.

Trey Smith earned his second Super Bowl ring on Sunday night with the Kansas City Chiefs. He played every snap of the Super Bowl at right guard as the offense racked up 455 yards. A consistent part of the Chiefs’ season, Smith played over 1,300 snaps this season.

He isn’t the offensive lineman finding success in the NFL. Darnell Wright enjoyed success in his rookie season with the Chicago Bears. Wright played for Heupel and was an integral part of the 2022 season for the Vols. Wright played 99.4% of snaps this season with 12 starts to his name while allowing just seven sacks according to PFF. He also played through injury and remained a constant force for the Bears.

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Tennessee’s offense under Heupel is not known for the ground-and-pound, making for more finesse and quick blocking from its offensive lineman. It hasn’t seemed to hurt Wright, his draft stock or his performance, at the next level.

Having another Tennessee alum in Smith, who is a public figure, finding success in several Super Bowls can help Tennessee’s recruiting. Having Wright find success can help Heupel recruit offensive linemen into his system.

Here’s a look at some targets that Tennessee could use that help for.

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OT David Sanders

One of the top prospects that MacIntyre is peer-recruiting is offensive tackle David Sanders. A five-star prospect, Sanders is the No. 2 prospect in the 2025 class overall and the No. 1 offensive tackle by 247Sports Composite.

Out of Providence Day School in North Carolina, Sanders holds Tennessee in high regard along with Clemson, Georgia and Alabama. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound lineman holds offers from at least 33 schools.

Sanders’ relationship with MacIntyre, and growing relationship with staff, can only help the Vols in his recruitment.

OL Josh Petty

Another five-star offensive lineman, Josh Petty is a target — and a need — for Tennessee in the 2025 class

Petty ranks as the No. 20 prospect overall and the No. 3 offensive tackle in the class. He is also the No. 6 prospect out of Georgia by 247Sports Composite.

He is from Fellowship Christian School in Roswell, Georgia. Georgia is also a top contender for the 6-foot-5, 262-pound tackle.

2026 OL Leo Delaney

Interior offensive lineman Leo Delaney is expected to be in Knoxville this weekend. Delaney is out of Providence Day School in North Carolina.

The 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive lineman isn’t ranked by 247Sports Composite, but 247Sports ranks him as the No. 28 prospect overall and the No. 1 interior offensive lineman. South Carolina, NC State and North Carolina are among 13 schools that have offered Delaney.

OT Jaelyne Matthews

Out of Toms River North High School in New Jersey, Jaelyn Matthews is another target for the Vols. He ranks as the No. 98 prospect overall and the No. 11 offensive tackle by 247Sports Composite. He is also the No. 3 prospect from New Jersey.

He was recently in Knoxville for Tennessee’s junior day ahead of the recruiting dead period, which by all accounts went well.

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