CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Russ Huesman admits he didn't quite know what to expect from offensive lineman Synjen Herren this fall.
Maybe that's why the fourth-year University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach has been so pleased by his performance.
"I think Synjen is doing great," Huesman said earlier this week. "That was a concern because he redshirted last year and missed most of spring and summer with an ankle (injury), so we had no clue how good he was going to be and whether he could compete right now.
"But he's a fighter. He's a battler. He's doing a great job and he knows the offense."
Those are the exact areas Herren has tried most to improve in his first year of college. The former Northwest Whitfield star used his redshirt year to bulk up to 310 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame, and spent all summer in Chattanooga trying to get ahead on the team's new offensive system.
"I just watched film and sure I knew all the plays before camp opened, not so much to get ahead, but to make sure I was caught up to everyone else after missing most of the spring," Herren said. "I used all last year to get bigger and stronger and learn to play the college game. Now I'm fully healthy and excited to be back out there."
Huesman said the offensive line as a whole has had an extremely good camp, making it even more impressive that Herren's play is standing out.
"I think our offensive line is really holding its own against a probably a pretty good defensive line, and at times, making them really look bad," Huesman said. "We're so much further along at that position this year than we were last year that it's not even close."
Herren's rise up the depth chart had him taking plenty of snaps at guard with the first team in Sunday's final preseason scrimmage, and he has no plans of slowing down.
"I'm just doing everything I can to prepare myself and give myself an opportunity (to start), not that an opportunity like that has been given yet," Herren said. "We're not really sure where we all stand, but we're all going to be a lot more prepared this year."