The health of Tennessee’s football team has been a critical storyline throughout the year. As Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel mentioned on Thursday, every team is banged up around this time of the year. However, in Tennessee’s case, the Vols are missing a few key starters heading into the final two games of the year.
On Thursday, Heupel gave an injury update for linebacker Aaron Beasley, running back Tiyon Evans, and wide receiver JaVonta Payton. While nothing is definitive, some of the news was optimistic, while others fell short of that same outlook.
“You guys know that Fridays are usually when we make those final decisions,” Heupel said on Thursday. “[Aaron] Beasley has continued to get better. We’ll see where he is at tomorrow. Tiyon [Evans] wasn’t able to do much today and probably won’t be able to go tomorrow. JaVonta [Payton] continues to get better throughout the week. But we usually make all those decisions on Friday.”
On the offensive side of the ball, it sounds like Payton is more likely to return than Evans, who has missed two of the last four games for Tennessee. Evans, who has missed a total of three games this year, did not play last week against Georgia while nursing an injury. However, with Heupel’s update on Monday, it looks like the recovery is taking an extended amount of time.
During Saturday’s loss to Georgia, Payton went down with an injury early in the first quarter and did not return to the game.
Additionally, Beasley also went down with an injury against Georgia, except his injury was later in the game. Beasley, Tennessee’s third-leading tackler on the year, has appeared in every Tennessee game this season so far. Tennessee linebacker Solon Page III was the main replacement for Beasley against the Bulldogs.
Tennessee will welcome in South Alabama this Saturday night in Neyland Stadium. ESPNU will have the broadcast at 7:30 p.m. ET.