KNOXVILLE – With Tennessee facing the strong possibility of losing all five starters on the offensive line, finding immediate help for next year at that spot has been one of the priorities for the 2014 recruiting class.
The Vols found a huge piece of the puzzle on Tuesday evening, landing consensus four-star junior college offensive tackle Dontavius Blair.
The 6-foot-8, 305-pound Blair was lightly recruited out of high school after coming out as a 250-pound prospect. He got his weight up into the 300s at Garden City (Kan.) Community College and has been one of the most highly sought after junior college linemen in the nation.
Blair, who is originally from Anniston, Ala., held offers from Auburn, Georgia, USC, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida State and many others.
He is the fourth offensive lineman to commit to the Vols for the class of 2014, joining Orlando Brown (6-7, 335), Ray Raulerson (6-5, 280) and Coleman Thomas (6-6, 290). The Vols now have 25 total commitments in a class ranked second nationally by Rivals.com.
Blair is expected to enroll at UT in January and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
How he fits: It’s too early to say for certain, but there’s a chance that Blair could be an opening-game starting offensive tackle for the Vols in 2014. That could be contingent on junior left tackle Tiny Richardson’s decision to go pro early or stay, but regardless of that, the Vols are scheduled to lose four senior starters up front, including right tackle Ja’Wuan James.
The only other potential tackle that will be on the roster next year with much game experience is current redshirt sophomore Kyler Kerbyson, who has seen limited game action as a backup at a few different spots. Junior Marques Pair and freshmen Austin Sanders and Brett Kendrick, both of whom are likely redshirting this year, will be the only other returning scholarship tackles on the roster.
That leaves the door wide open for Blair to, at the very least, compete to be a starter next season.
ESPN.com: N/A (Doesn’t rank JUCO players)
247Sports.com: 4-star; No. 9 overall JUCO prospect; No. 5 overall JUCO OT
247Sports.com Composite: 4-star; No. 4 overall JUCO prospect; No. 2 overall JUCO OT
Tennessee’s 2014 commitments (247Sports Composite ranking):
(JUCO) OL Dontavius Blair (4-star)
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga
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