It hasn’t been the smoothest of fall camps for Jeremy Pruitt’s Tennessee football team.
At one point, up to 48 players were missing from practice due to COVID-19 related issues and injury. It’s led to players who will play for Tennessee early on in the season being unable to have had the chance to block and tackle in scrimmages, Pruitt said on the Paul Finebaum show Wednesday.
Tennessee did take a step in the right direction on Thursday, however, despite struggling to scrimmage over the course of fall camp. Thursday afternoon’s practice was the most-attended practice since the third practice of fall camp, Pruitt told reporters over Zoom.
“We had an opportunity Tuesday to go out there and get a lot of specialty situations going,” Pruitt said. “Felt like with the number of guys we had back, we had some really good work. Today we went back and kind of approached it a little bit like game week, started working some on South Carolina. A lot of special teams. We’ve had a lot of guys out, so doing special teams is obviously gotta be a premium for us, with the guys that have had to bump around.
“So got some good work today. Seemed like we had a lot of juice out there, so that was good to see. Got a lot of guys back. It was the most guys we’ve had on the practice field since the third practice of camp. So it’s good to see guys out there. Got a lot of guys that have to get a lot of work the next nine days. And they’ve got to put in time to do it. It was two good practices in a row.”
Two of the players back at practice are key to the Vols’ success in 2020. Sophomore offensive tackle Wanya Morris, who was named to the Preseason All-SEC Coaches Second Team on Thursday, missed much of fall camp due to quarantine. As did senior defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon. Both were in attendance for Thursday’s practice.
“Both of those guys have been hit with the quarantine,” Pruitt said. “Wanya twice. So he practiced today. Think it’s the second time he’s practiced in 23 days. And Aubrey was out there today. So they’ve got a lot of work to do. Hopefully we can get some plays out of them next Saturday. That will be determined next week.”
Pruitt doesn’t expect any of his two-deep to miss next Saturday’s season opener against South Carolina due to positive COVID tests or contact tracing. As of right now, the Vols “would have everybody” available. Kick off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.