Dontavius Blair leads group of redshirts who could help Vols in '15
Dontavius Blair didn’t play a single snap for Tennessee in 2014. Despite entering as the team’s top JUCO transfer, Blair missed the entire season to redshirt, which was even more surprising given the team’s struggles in the trenches.
The Vols had the worst offensive line in the SEC. The group ranked No. 118 overall in sacks allowed and No. 124 in tackles for loss allowed.
Tennessee was also short in depth, making the decision to redshirt Blair all the more surprising. Starting tackle Jacob Gilliam suffered an ACL tear in Week 1, but returned several weeks later. Center Mack Crowder went down in Week 12 and was replaced by Dylan Wiesman,
There were plenty of opportunities for Blair, a former four-star, to see playing time given his assumed potential as one of the nation’s top JUCO prospects in 2014. However, the 6-foot-8, 300-pound offensive lineman should be even more prepared after spending an entire year with the program.
Blair is expected to make an impact on what should be an improved Vols roster. With two years of remaining eligibility, the former blue chipper should play a crucial role in improving Tennessee’s depleted line in 2015.
DILLON BATES RETURNING FROM INJURY
Like Blair, Dillon Bates was a top prospects of Tennessee’s top-5 recruiting class that found himself redshirting in 2014. However, Bates was receiving playing time before suffering a torn labrum injury in Week 2, which he played through for tw0nmore games before being sidelined.
The four-star linebacker had successful surgery midway through the season and is expected to see improvement in his second season. Bates severed as a backup WILL linebacker and recorded six tackles in four appearances, including a season-high three against Utah State in his college debut.
CREAMER OF THE CROP
Three-star athlete Neiko Creamer also redshirted during his first season with the program. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound freshman is expected to play tight end in 2015, which is lacking depth chart after Daniel Helm’s decision to transfer and Brendan Downs’ departure.
Creamer was athletic enough to excel as a wide receiver for Eastern Christian Academy, one of the nation’s top high school travel teams, and has the size to play tight end in the SEC. He should benefit from the extra year of eligibility and provide the Vols with a solid option at tight end along side Ethan Wolf.