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Cedric Tillman ‘Continuing to Progress’ as Alabama Game Draws Closer

Tennessee Cedric Tillman
Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman. Photo by Tennessee Athletics.

It’s been a little over three weeks since Tennessee last had wide receiver Cedric Tillman on the field and lined up for the Vols’ offense. After suffering an ankle injury against Akron in week three, though, the sidelined Tillman has been progressing along according to head coach Josh Heupel.

Tillman did undergo surgery for the injury in September. According to Heupel, part of that timeline was about looking ahead to Tennessee’s matchup with Alabama this week.

“Cedric’s doing good,” Heupel said on Monday. “This is part of the reason why he had the surgery, is to try to be back for this one (Alabama). He’s continuing to progress over the weekend so we’ll monitor him. At the end of the day our medical team – like I said last week – our medical team and Cedric will make the right decision for him, now and in the future, too.”

While Heupel didn’t completely confirm or deny Tillman’s availability for Saturday, the update on Monday did sound optimistic. Heupel acknowledged last Monday that Tillman was able to move around, which helps give a better understanding of the recovery timeline at play.

In the meantime, Tennessee’s receivers have done an impressive job of stepping up in Tillman’s absence, helping lead the Vols to two Top 25 wins over that stretch of time.

“It’s a big part of creating explosive plays in the pass game,” Heupel said on Monday about Tennessee’s ability to win one-on-one matchups. “We’ve got great trust in those [receivers] and obviously Hendon does, too. We’ve been able to create a bunch of big plays. In this one, that’s got to be a part of the game, too.”

More from RTI: Tennessee ‘Anticipates’ Having Starting Left Tackle Back Against Alabama

Wide receivers Bru McCoy and Jalin Hyatt have shouldered most of the load with Ramel Keyton also stepping up his production. McCoy, though, in particular, has done a great job of giving Tennessee that reliable big-bodied receiver in Tillman’s spot to line up and play physical football on the sideline.

“He’s been a great addition,” Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker said about McCoy on Monday. “A great guy to be around, great guy to our team. He fits in perfectly with just him being down to earth and him coming in with an extremely high work ethic. Earlier today me and Bru were talking and that’s kind of what we expected for all of our guys, to come in and make plays. Everyone is here for a reason. So when it’s their turn to step up and make plays, we’re expecting them to do that.”

If there’s anyone that knows how tough Tennessee’s receivers are, it’s the Volunteers’ defensive backs. While talking to the media on Monday, defensive back Christian Charles explained just how much he believes that iron is sharpening iron with this wide receiver group.

“Having the best wide receiver core in the country definitely helps,” Charles said on Monday. “Definitely helps you get prepared every week. You’re not seeing us slouch at all, ever, at practice. You know you’re getting a guy’s 100 percent effort every week at practice. And I feel like that prepares us so much leading up to game day just getting those high-speed, real high-value reps because every rep with any receiver on our team is very, very valuable. Because they’re all super talented and they all have a lot to offer.”

No. 6 Tennessee will host No. 3 Alabama this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET in Neyland Stadium.

Tennessee Wide Receivers Stats

WR Jalin Hyatt

  • 5 games played, 27 receptions, 388 yards, 5 touchdowns, 77 average yards per game

WR Bru McCoy

  • 5 games played, 20 receptions, 351 yards, 2 touchdowns, 70.2 average yards per game

WR Cedric Tillman

  • 3 games played, 17 receptions, 246 yards, 1 touchdown, 82 average yards per game

TE Princeton Fant

  • 5 games played, 10 receptions, 87 yards, 17.4 average yards per game

WR Ramel Keyton

  • 5 games played, 10 receptions, 202 yards, 1 touchdown, 40.4 average yards per game

RB Jabari Small

  • 5 games played, 6 receptions, 47 yards, 1 touchdown, 9.4 average yards per game

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