Ever wonder how it got to this point for Tennessee?
How does a school with so much pride in building championship offensive lines face a looming 2010 season in which they'll have so little depth and so few proven players up front?
First, let's look at this season and how the Vols postponed the inevitable rebuilding.
Credit two former walk-ons, Cody and Cory Sullins, much of that. Credit Aaron Douglas for giving the Vols a tackle to hang their helmets on. Had it not been for those three surprises, there's no telling where the Vols would be this season.
As for next season, UT will have to replace four starting offensive linemen (both Sullins brothers, tackle Chris Scott and guard Jacques McClendon), a gimpy former starter (Vladimir Richard) and a beat-up center (Josh McNeil) who started 35 games for the Vols before a severe knee injury slowed him this year.
Behind that group, the Vols have eight largely unproven offensive linemen on scholarship. All but one are underclassmen.
UT is hosting three big-name offensive line prospects this weekend. Every school sells playing time. The Vols mean it.
Here's a look back at each signing class and what went wrong:
n 2005: This looked like the signing class that would build a dominant offensive line: McNeil proved injury-prone but tough, yet didn't immediately jell with new coach Lane Kiffin. That, along with a severe knee injury, has kept him on the bench this season.
Scott was a late bloomer but has been a solid upperclassman. Richard was moved from defense and has played admirably. Malcolm Rawls left UT to return home and play for Memphis.
n 2006: McClendon has proved to be a consistent starter. Jarrod Shaw was moved from defense and found playing time this season before being benched in favor of Douglas.
Ramone Johnson was dismissed. Darius Myers wasn't asked to return.
n 2007: Darris Sawtelle left UT after Kiffin told him he wasn't good enough to play in UT's new system.
Converted defensive lineman William Brimfield and Cody Pope have been backups to this point in their careers.
n 2008: Douglas, a converted tight end, appears on the verge of stardom. Dallas Thomas is competing but needs to get stronger. Carson Anderson is still on the team at center.
Preston Bailey quit football to focus on academics.
n 2009: JerQuari Schofield has the frame coaches want at tackle but needs to add strength. Kevin Revis was a low-level recruit yet has plenty of respect among the high school football community. Daniel Hood needs to get much bigger.
n 2010: The Vols have commitments from Zach Fulton, Jose Jose and Marques Pair. There's also a defensive lineman or two that might be a good fit on offense. UT, however, is still in the market.
Hurtin' For Irvin: The Vols took a hit in the national recruiting rankings when they lost commitment Bruce Irvin last week. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker (who likely will play defensive end in college) de-committed from UT and committed to Arizona State following his official visit to Tempe, Ariz., last week.
Scout.com dropped the Vols from third to seventh. Rivals.com dropped UT from fourth to sixth.
Don't fret, Vol fans. Such switches are common among junior college players. And even though Irvin is committed to Arizona State, there's a great chance the standout from Mt. San Antonio Community College in Walnut, Calif., ends up signing with the Vols.
Trash Talking: After "re-committing" to Florida, safety Matt Elam had a zinger for Kiffin.
"Oh well, I'll just beat him," Elam told The Palm Beach Post when asked if Kiffin would be mad about his decision.
Florida coach Urban Meyer put the press on Elam, a 6-foot, 205-pound safety from Dwyer High School in West Palm Beach, after the prize recruit took an official visit to UT last weekend. It's obvious that Meyer didn't want another Nu'Keese Richardson situation.
Tish Tosh: Kiffin's popularity hit an all-time high (or low) when Kiffin was briefly mentioned on the season premiere of Tosh.0 on Comedy Central. It seems the host, Daniel Tosh, bears somewhat of a resemblance to Kiffin.
Tosh, as he usually does, poked fun at Kiffin on the Internet clip show, which is popular among the young men demographic.
Guess what? College football prospects are young men, so Kiffin won't be complaining about the added exposure.
Dave Hooker covers recruiting. He can be reached at email@example.com.