Tennessee freshman running back Len’Neth Whitehead could return from injury by the end of the 2020 season, Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced on Saturday.
Whitehead was forced to miss the final seven games of his senior season at Athens Academy in Athens, Georgia with a lisfranc injury — the tearing of mid-foot ligaments — which he suffered during the Spartans’ fifth game of the year.
“He had a significant injury (last fall),” Pruitt told reporters on Saturday during a Zoom call. “We knew that when we signed him.
“Len’Neth has really progressed well with his rehab. He’s not practicing, as far as full-speed reps. He’s doing individual and things like that. But hopefully in three to four weeks, he’ll be at a point to where he can start taking full-speed reps. If he’s able to do that, maybe in the last half of the year he’ll get a chance to play a little bit. But again, he’s right on schedule with where he’s supposed to be. And he’s working hard to get there.”
Whitehead’s availability would be a welcomed addition to a Tennessee running back room that is searching for a third running back to step up behind sophomore Eric Gray and senior Ty Chandler. Tim Jordan was dismissed from the team and entered the transfer portal in July following an offseason arrest.
Tennessee signed three freshman running backs in the 2020 recruiting cycle. In addition to Whitehead, the Vols signed three-star running back Jabari Small out of Memphis, and three-star Tee Hodge out of nearby Maryville High School. Small was ranked the No. 12 overall running back in the country in the 247Sports composite rankings, while Hodge was ranked the No. 57 overall running back, respectively.
Whitehead was listed as an inside linebacker, but was considered a four-star and the No. 213 overall player in the country. He was a two-way player at Athen’s Academy, and also a star on the track and field team. Whitehead rushed for 1,481 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior in 2018.
Whitehead will get a chance to throw shot put for Tennessee’s track team as well. He was a three-time state champion in the shot put. At one point, Whitehead was ranked No. 3 in the nation in the event.