On Wednesday, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said after practice that redshirt junior offensive lineman Nathan Niehaus would no longer be part of the Vols’ football program. On Thursday morning, Niehaus explained why.
Per a statement released by David Ubben of The Athletic, Niehaus says he is retiring from football due to “sustained injuries and the overlapping wear on my body.” Niehaus says it was his decision to “start the process of finishing my college education and finally chase the career of my dreams.” Niehaus gave thanks to Pruitt, Tennessee’s coaching staff, the strength and conditioning program along with the nutrition program at UT, and Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer for helping him through the process.
A statement from Tennessee OL Nathan Niehaus, who says he is retiring from football “due to sustained injuries and the overlapping wear on my body.” pic.twitter.com/f33zuq5Y0p
— David Ubben (@davidubben) August 8, 2019
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound redshirt junior lineman from Cincinnati, Ohio played in 10 games for the Vols last season and started six contests. He played primarily at right guard, but he also saw action at tackle for Tennessee. His first career start came on the road against Auburn last season.
Prior to joining the Vols, Niehaus was a three-star prospect in the 2016 class and signed with the Vols as part of their 2016 signing class. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Niehaus was the No. 1,062 overall prospect and No. 47 player in the state of Ohio.
Niehaus didn’t appear in any games for the Vols in either 2016 or 2017. His debut came against West Virginia in 2018.
With the departure of Niehaus, the Vols have now seen seven offensive linemen leave the program for one reason or another since the end of the 2018 season, and he’s yet another to quit due to medical/health issues. Drew Richmond elected to transfer and is using his final season of eligibility at USC. The other linemen who are no longer on the roster all had to quit due to medical issues.
Chance Hall, Tanner Antonutti, Devante Brooks, and Eric Crosby all had to medically retire from football this offseason. Three-star 2019 offensive lineman signee Melvin McBride also was forced into medical retirement this summer before even suiting up for Tennessee.
Now, Niehaus joins that long laundry list of linemen who saw their careers cut short due to a rash of injuries during or before their times at Tennessee.
The Vols are now left with 13 scholarship offensive linemen on their roster, and that includes Trey Smith, whose status is still up in the air due to ongoing issues with blood clots in his lungs. That also includes Brandon Kennedy, who started Tennessee’s season opener last season before suffering a season-ending injury the next week in practice.