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Tennessee freshman defensive back to redshirt in 2020

(Photo via Ryan Callahan/247Sports)

Tennessee true freshman defensive back Tamarion McDonald will redshirt in 2020 following offseason shoulder surgery, Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced Friday evening.

“He had shoulder surgery this summer,” Pruitt said following Tennessee’s third practice of fall camp. “We elected to do that so he would be ready when we started in the winter time. Went ahead and got that done for him over the uncertainty at that point in time during the pandemic. We felt like that was the best thing to do, so we went ahead and done that.

“He’s a guy that will definitely be redshirted this season.”

While Pruitt may have used the term ‘redshirt,’ McDonald will still be a true freshman next season. He’ll also have a redshirt in hand. That’s because the NCAA announced on Friday that all fall sport athletes are being granted a free year of eligibility due to COVID-19.

McDonald was considered a linebacker by most recruiting services, but Tennessee signed the Memphis native as a defensive back who would play the nickle and safety position. He was one of three to sign with the Vols out of Whitehaven High School in the 2020 recruiting class. His teammates, linebackers Bryson Eason and Martavius French, also signed with Tennessee and are currently true freshmen for the Vols.

McDonald was considered a three-star prospect and the nation’s No. 38 overall ranked outside linebacker in the 247 composite rankings. Along with Eason and French, he helped lead Whitehaven to the state semifinals in 2019 and the state title game in 2018. He was a key piece to a Whitehaven defense that allowed just 5.4 points per game and produced seven shutouts during the 2019 season. McDonald tallied 90 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown as a junior in 2018.

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