Wednesday is Jeremy Pruitt’s busiest day of the week in regards to his media responsibilities. Tennessee’s second-year head coach must make an appearance on the SEC Teleconference, hold a press conference following practice, and attend Vol Calls.
Hump day tends to be the day of the week that Pruitt fields the most questions regarding injuries. This Wednesday was no different. The first order of business — has freshman quarterback Brian Maurer healed from the concussion he suffered against Mississippi State, and will he play against No. 1 Alabama on Saturday? Pruitt addressed that twice on Wednesday.
First, Pruitt said the freshman would be a “game-time decision” on the SEC coaches teleconference.
His answer was no different Wednesday evening following Tennessee’s practice.
“It’ll still be a game-time decision with him,” Pruitt stated. “It’s easy to take reps because they have a (concussion) protocol where they kind of get them in, kind of adjust them back into the practice schedule. You don’t hit the quarterback, so he’s taking reps this week.”
Tennessee’s quarterback isn’t the only player questionable to play against Alabama due to a concussion. Junior right guard Riley Locklear suffered a head injury against Georgia two weeks ago and missed the Mississippi State game because of it. Locklear has attended practice this week, but he has not participated in drills.
Unlike Maurer, Locklear’s status seems even more uncertain for this weekend’s match-up.
“We don’t know if he’s (Locklear) going to play yet,” Pruitt said. “Right now, I’d say he probably won’t.
“But we’ve got Trey Smith in there. We can play Darnell (Wright) in there, Ryan Johnson, Jerome Carvin, Chris Akporoghene. We can play Jahmir (Johnson). So we’ve got guys that can move in there and play.”
Junior offensive lineman Jahmir Johnson is another offensive lineman who has been out of the games the last couple of weeks due to a knee procedure he had early in the season. Johnson was working at left guard during Tuesday’s practice, and then he moved to tackle during Wednesday’s practice. Pruitt stated that Johnson will be available to play against Alabama, as well as freshman cornerback Warren Burrell
“Warren (Burrell) is a guy that, sometimes with those ankle injuries, it kind of lingers and it doesn’t take a lot to kind of aggravate them,” Pruitt said of Burrell, who has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury. “But he’ll be available. So will Jahmir (Johnson).
“And (LaTrell) Bumphus, we’ll figure out probably in the next couple days if he is (available).”
Junior defensive lineman LaTrell Bumphus was shaken up in the win over Mississippi State and has worked on the bike with the strength and conditioning during the open portion of practice.
As for Burrell, he’s been a starter in Tennessee’s secondary this season as a true freshman. Burrell has played a significant role when healthy. In his absence, redshirt junior Kenneth George Jr. has filled in.
The Vols will kick-off with No. 1 Alabama at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.