Derek Dooley isn't setting his sights very high.
The new Tennessee footballcoach would love to suddenly find a bevy of playable offensive linemen after two weeks of practice, but he admits that probably won't happen.
"It would be nice to have at least eight," Dooley said. "I'm not sure how realistic we are on that. You'd like to have 10 but we're a ways away from that. I hope we can get five."
With sophomore tackle Aaron Douglas' departure on Thursday, the Vols are officially undergoing a complete reconstruction of their offensive line.
Gone are the five starters. Gone are two of the top backups. Gone is any semblance of continuity.
And with a new coaching staff, UT's offensive line has undergone more shuffles this spring than a Las Vegas poker room.
Yet a top five seems to be emerging with sophomore Dallas Thomas at left tackle, redshirt freshman JerQuari Schofield at left guard, senior/converted defensive lineman Victor Thomas at center, senior Jarrod Shaw and freshman Ja'Wuan James at right tackle.
For those keeping track, that's three underclassmen and one converted defensive tackle. No matter, says an optimistic Thomas.
"We're not going to be the weak link on the team, period," Thomas said. "Because we're dominating. That's the way we're looking at it. We're coming hard."
Time will tell. Dooley's staff is looking for five starters but none is more important than a center to handle UT's line calls. The two candidates are Thomas and redshirt freshman Daniel Hood.
"Both of them are showing promise but I think beyond that it's hard to make any more statements," Dooley said. "We have a long way to go and that's a concern. It's a concern for our football team, is finding a good center."
Thomas is improving, according to his teammates, but admits that the line calls are still a bit confusing. Hood is struggling with much more.
The former Catholic High School standout lost 15 pounds when he recently battled strep throat and the flu. Hood is at 260 and said he needs to weigh 285 to play at an SEC level. He said he needs to eat more than 6,000 calories a day during spring practice to gain weight in order to compete with UT's defensive linemen.
"You can tell they've got not just speed behind them, but they've mass behind them too," Hood said. "You've got to have the same mass they do to keep with them and block them."
Unfortunately for UT, Hood's weight is far from its top priority as it tries to build a viable offensive line this spring.
"We have a long way to go on that," Thomas said.