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Pruitt Explains Absence of Veteran in Florida Game

Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

On Saturday, two veteran Vols weren’t with the team as Tennessee took on No. 9 Florida.

As was reported on Saturday morning, linebacker Will Ignont didn’t play for the Vols against the Gators. But he wasn’t the only player who was held out of Tennessee’s SEC opener, though. Offensive lineman Jahmir Johnson didn’t travel with the team down to Gainesville and wasn’t available for the game, either.

After the Vols’ 34-3 loss to the Gators, head coach Jeremy Pruitt was asked about why those two didn’t play.

“When you travel, you got 70 guys that you can bring,” Pruitt explained to reporters down in Gainesville. “Jahmir had to have a little scope done the other day. He’ll be back. He wanted to make the trip. We just traveled the other guys we felt gave us the best opportunity to have success.”

Pruitt didn’t elaborate on why Ignont was unavailable, however.

Johnson was a full-time starter for the Vols at guard last season, starting in all 11 games he played for Tennessee. Johnson joined UT as part of their 2018 signing class, coming from Arizona Western in the junior college ranks. This season, Johnson has been in more of a backup role to start the year, though he did start at left tackle against BYU.

With Johnson not available, Tennessee started two true freshman on the offensive line in Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright. Redshirt sophomore K’Rojhn Calbert also started.

Ignont had been a key piece in Tennessee’s linebacker room through the first three weeks of the season, but senior Daniel Bituli’s return helped stabilize that group on Saturday. Ignont played a lot and started for Tennessee through the first three weeks. He recorded a season-high eight tackles against BYU in the Vols’ Week 2 loss to the Cougars after totaling seven tackles and a pass breakup in Tennessee’s season opener against Georgia State.

Through three games this season, Ignont had 16 tackles, a pass breakup, and a quarterback hurry.

Ignont has played in 21 career games with the Vols counting his three contests this season, and he made two starts prior to this season. In those 21 appearances, Ignont has totaled 68 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a pass defended.

The Vols started Bituli and true freshman Henry To’o To’o in Ignont’s absence, and both inside linebackers were bright spots on an otherwise dreary day. Both Bituli and To’o To’o tied for the team lead with eight tackles, and Bituli added two sacks, two tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. To’o To’o also tallied two quarterback hurries.

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