Trey Smith Cleared to Play in Vols’ Season Opener

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    Photo by Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

    The good news keeps coming in for Tennessee’s football program.

    On Tuesday evening, it was reported that Michigan defensive line transfer Aubrey Solomon had been granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA to play for the Vols in 2019. On Wednesday afternoon, Tennessee got more good news about one of their other players.

    Tennessee announced on Wednesday that junior offensive lineman Trey Smith has been medically cleared to play in the Vols’ season opener against Georgia State on Saturday. Smith has been dealing with blood clots in his lungs for over a year and a half, and his status for 2019 has been in limbo as he waited to see if he could play football or not.

    Now, the former Freshman All-American will be able to take the field for at least one game in 2019.

    “My family and I consulted with several of the best doctors in the country, and a plan has been developed that allows me to compete with my teammates on gameday,” Smith said in a statement via a release. “My family and I are confident in that plan. The coaches and staff here at Tennessee have always had my best interests at heart and I can’t thank them enough. Thanks to all of the fans and my teammates for all of their support.”

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    Blood clots were discovered in Smith’s lungs last offseason, and he was held out of spring practices in 2018 as his health was monitored and doctors examined him. Smith was cleared to return to football activities over the summer, and he was slowly integrated into Tennessee’s practices during fall camp. He was cleared for full contact late in fall camp, and he began the season as the Vols’ starting left tackle.

    Smith started the first seven games of Tennessee’s season, playing every game at left tackle. But before UT’s game against South Carolina on October 27th, Smith’s blood clots resurfaced, and he was held out the remainder of the 2018 season.

    Tennessee’s coaches and doctors held Smith out of spring practices once again in 2019, though he was on the field. Smith never went through contact drills, but he continued to work out and kept himself in shape in the spring and summer. Smith has been on the practice field all fall for the Vols during fall camp, and he’s seen more and more contact as fall has gone alone, though he never participated in full contact drills during the open portions of practice.

    The former five-star prospect started all 12 games for the Vols as a true freshman, beginning the season at guard and then starting the final three games at left tackle. He earned Freshman All-American and Freshman All-SEC honors for his debut year at Tennessee. Smith’s future seemed extremely bright at Tennessee.

    Then, the blood clots were discovered in his lungs.

    Smith’s health concerns have put a dark cloud over his football future, but those storms have been abated. At least, for now.

    Tennessee will likely take Smith’s health on a week-by-week basis this season. According to head coach Jeremy Pruitt, it was Trey Smith’s decision to continue to pursue football, and the university’s medical staff signed off on allowing him to play on Saturday.

    “This is Trey’s decision, and our medical staff has done a great job throughout this entire process,” Pruitt said via a release. “The main priority has been and always will be Trey’s health. Our doctors have implemented a plan that will allow Trey to play, and we are excited for him.”

    Vol fans will get to see both Smith and the aforementioned Aubrey Solomon on the field on Saturday, August 31st when the Vols host Georgia State in Neyland Stadium to kick off the 2019 season.