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Tennessee welcomed one Vol back for another season – on one condition

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Replacing one offensive tackle is a challenge. Replacing two – especially in the SEC – can be a recipe for disaster. Tennessee didn’t like the taste of that, so they jumped in the transfer portal and reorganized.

The Great Offensive Tackle shuffle of 2024 began when the Vols found themselves in the cat-bird seat when recruiting LSU transfer Lance Heard, the offensive tackle who had already had success with the Tigers, but was looking for something a bit more. However, left tackle is every offensive lineman’s first choice because it’s so important to an offense – which means left tackles in the NFL make more money than most other positions. 

John Campbell Jr., seemingly already had the left tackle position locked down. He played there all last season. Would he be willing to flip sides? Some would consider that an insult. No Vol should, based on recent history. Tennessee has made a tradition out of flipping its left tackle to the right side. They’ve done so the past two seasons and it worked out great for Darnell Wright. He was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft after being moved from left to right tackle in 2022.

“The transition has been smooth,” Campbell said. “Just been going through it, trusting my coaches and everything they have been telling me. When they came up to me, I’m just a team guy, so I’ll do whatever to help the team grow. I’m just here for the team.”

Campbell could have foregone his final season of eligibility and entered the NFL Draft. However, he wanted to come back for a multitude of reasons, especially his teammates.

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“I just wanted to stay with the guys, that o-line room,” Heard said. “Those are my boys. I just wanted to come back with the guys. I love the room. It’s just great people in there. If you see somebody down, they’re going to pick them up. It’s just a brotherhood as an o-line room. We’re all servers, that’s what we’re held for. I just love to be with those guys.”


And Tennessee’s coaches love having him back.

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