After suffering two season-ending injuries in his first two years with the Vols, coaches have taken a slower approach to Shy Tuttle’s recovery heading into the 2017 season. Coaches are easing him in to drills and heavier work loads this fall, but Tuttle continues to make progress and is continually impressing his coaches and teammates with what he’s able to do.
“He’s progressing extremely well,” Butch Jones said of Tuttle after Tuesday’s practice. “And with that progression comes confidence. You can see it right now. He has tremendous confidence, and he keeps getting better. His conditioning levels are going up as well. I’ve been really encouraged by what we’re seeing on a daily basis with him.”
From what the media has seen from Tuttle at practice so far, Jones’ enthusiasm is easy to understand. Tuttle doesn’t look too hampered by his leg injury from last season, and his conditioning is just about on par with the majority of Tennessee’s other defensive linemen.
And one of Tuttle’s teammates agrees with Jones’ assessment of Tuttle’s rapid progression.
“He’s looking good,” senior defensive tackle Kendal Vickers added after practice on Tuesday. “He’s always had a great, positive attitude. He just has to take it on to the field now. He’s slowly progressing, getting on the field and doing more drills each and every day. I love to see that out of him.”
Tuttle played in just six games as a true freshman before his season was cut short by a gruesome injury in Tennessee’s game against Georgia. Then last season Tuttle only played in seven games before another leg injury, this time against South Carolina, sidelined him for the rest of the season. Tuttle has barely played enough games to qualify for a full season (13) in his first two seasons with Tennessee combined.
The Vols will need Tuttle on the field this season if the defensive line is to have the type of success they want. Tuttle has shown in his limited action in the past he has what it takes to contribute at an SEC level as a defensive tackle. If he can recover in time for the Vols’ SEC schedule and stay healthy, Tuttle could be a big piece of Tennessee’s defense in 2017.