Darnell Wright hasn’t exactly lived up to his five-star billing so far at Tennessee. He was a part of an underperforming offensive line last season that featured as many as four former five-star prospects, yet something was off. Wright started at right tackle for that group last year, but now with fresh coaching and a less crowded depth chart, he may end up on the other side.
Wright has been seen working at left tackle so far in fall camp as offensive line coach Glen Elarbee tries to find his best five up front. That could result in Wright playing either tackle spot, but for now, the focus is on the left side.
“I think Darnell, probably the first couple days, was kind of feeling it out a little bit,” Elarbee said on Monday. “Boy, I really feel like practice four or practice five he started to settle in. He’s done a lot better in just technique and footwork. The mental aspect of knowing the protection piece of it. Obviously very, very talented guy. I think it probably was challenging there for him in the beginning, because he hasn’t had to do it. But credit to him pushing through it. And man, starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for it.”
Wright was a top ten player in the class of 2019. He came to Tennessee with fellow five-star tackle Wanya Morris, who handled left tackle duties during the last two seasons. However, following the exit of Jeremy Pruitt, Morris left for Oklahoma. His backup, Jahmir Johnson, left for Texas A&M.
That leaves Elarbee with a need at left tackle, one that he’s trying to fill with Wright, Cade Mays or even former walk-on Dayne Davis. K’Rojhn Calbert was also in the mix here, but he’s reportedly dealing with a potentially serious injury.
The new staff has worked with Wright on getting his 6-6, 335 pound frame in shape as they prepare to operate at warp speed this fall.
“Darnell is definitely different, I think,” Elarbee said. “One, he’s just enjoyed learning the game of football. Tries different techniques. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. Again, credit him, Kurt, pushing himself, trying to change eating habits. Getting his body weight right. Makes a different in just being able to last. Makes a difference in his twitch, everything else. I feel like, credit to Cade Mays too, some of the other guys have kind of helped him, been there for him. Obviously credit to Darnell, just trying to get better, trying to be a great man and football player. I think he’s done a great job. Hopefully he’ll continue down that path.”
Sticking Wright at left tackle might free up Cade Mays to work the right tackle spot, or fill one of the guard positions. Cooper Mays is expected to land at center, while Jerome Carvin has been getting some good reviews from the staff. Dayne Davis and Javontez Spraggins are also in the mix to start, while Jeremiah Crawford, RJ Perry, Ollie Lane, Jackson Lampley and Chris Akporoghene round out the depth.