The wait is finally over. The Tennessee coaching staff and this fanbase have waited eight long months for the final word on defensive linemen, Aubrey Solomon. The NCAA does a lot of things people disagree with (Getting rid of NCAA Football video games), but they did get one right by granting Solomon immediate eligibility just days before the Vols take the field against Georgia State.
The former 5-star prospect signed with Michigan out of Lee County High School (Ga.) as a part of the 2017 class. He was the No. 2 player in Georgia, the No. 2 overall defensive tackle, and the No. 23 overall player with very high expectations headed into his freshman season in Ann Arbor. His elite athleticism and playmaking ability at his size got him an offer from just about every elite program in the country, and earned him a spot in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Solomon had a productive freshman season for the Wolverines totaling 16 tackles and two tackles for loss in 8 games. He dealt with a knee injury in his sophomore season and only tallied 3 tackles in 2 games. After the season he announced he was leaving for Knoxville in hopes of getting a new start.
Tennessee was much closer to home and being the anchor of an entire defense had to be intriguing. The Vols struggled on defense last season, only totaling 68 TFLs (No. 77 in FBS) and averaging 154.5 rushing yards per game (No. 52 in FBS). The decision to transfer to UT was pretty easy considering most of Solomon’s primary recruiters from other schools had made their way to Knoxville to coach the Vols:
Alabama: Jeremy Pruitt
Florida: Chris Rumph
Georgia: Kevin Sherrer, Tracy Rocker
You can also add: Derrick Ansley (Alabama) and Tee Martin (USC)
The Vols headed into the 2019 season with question marks along the defensive line, and things looked even more questionable with Emmit Gooden going down with a torn ACL. The loss of Tennessee’s most productive defensive linemen from 2018 was a huge blow to a team desperately needing to improve upfront. This would make the Solomon’s verdict even more crucial than expected, knowing the Vols could be without a tackle that has had quality snaps in a college football game.
The Vols finally have some momentum to carry into the season, but still have a lot to prove on the defensive front. They will have to rely on newcomers like: Darel Middleton, Savion Williams, Elijah Simmons, redshirt freshman Greg Emerson, and sophomore John Mincey to be a successful unit in the SEC, but the future is bright.
Look for Aubrey Solomon to turn it up a notch knowing he is eligible to play in front of 100,000+ fans every home game for his new team that recruited him to become a difference maker upfront for the Vols. It is nice to finally have some good news.
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