Heupel ‘Hopeful’ Tillman, Other Injured Vols Will Be Available Against Florida

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    Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

    Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel wasn’t tipping his hand about the availability of a couple Volunteer starters Thursday. The second year head coach said it would be a game time decision for the Vols — Jabari Small, Dylan Sampson and Cedric Tillman — who left last Saturday’s win over Akron with injuries.

    Asked specifically about Tillman’s participation in practice this week, Heupel didn’t offer a direct answer. Instead, Heupel offered a broad answer on all of the Vols’ injured players.

    “All those guys that were nicked up last week, those guys, we are going to find out in the next couple days where they are at and their availability for the game,” Heupel said. “Hopeful with all of them.”

    Heupel was “hopeful” that questionable Vols Juwan Mitchell and Dee Williams would play in last week’s matchup against Akron. Mitchell made his season debut in the win while Williams did not dress out.

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    While Heupel didn’t comment on Tillman’s workload at practice this week, running backs coach Jerry Mack said Small and Sampson were full participants at Tuesday’s practice.

    “He was able to do everything,” Mack said of Small. “He finished the the entire practice — 21/22 periods we had. He did every part of practice. We didn’t have to limit him from a standpoint of his health it was more if us being smart with the workload, and that’s no different than what we normally do over the course of the week. We’e always monitoring those guys workload with our GPS system we have on those guys to make sure that we’re not overworking them so he can be prepared.”

    Small and Sampson being full participants in Tuesday’s practice bodes well for their participation Saturday.

    There’s been no update of significance on Tillman’s status all week. The redshirt senior receiver has 246 yards and a touchdown on the young season.

    Tillman has been the Vols’ big game receiver since Heupel became head coach. In Tennessee’s last six games against ranked teams, Tilman’s recorded 677 yards and five touchdowns.

    Florida isn’t facing as many injury questions as Tennessee but could be without a key player as well. Gators first year coach Billy Napier said starting linebacker Ventrell Miller is questionable for the game after exiting the South Florida game with an injury.

    Kick off between the Vols and Gators is at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday. Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson and Jenny Dell are on the call for CBS.

    Ryan Schumpert is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. Ryan spent three years with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program before joining RTI. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.