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Josh Heupel is Noncommittal but Optimistic For Cedric Tillman’s Status Against South Carolina

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

Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman missed a four-game stretch during the middle of the season with an ankle injury that was suffered in week three against Akron. Tillman’s missed games included Florida, LSU, Alabama, and UT Martin.

While he did look to potentially be ready against UT Martin, Tennessee held Tillman out until the Kentucky game on Oct. 29. The senior Tennessee wide receiver played against the Wildcats and the following game against Georgia, but did not play against Missouri this past weekend despite going through warm-ups and senior day festivities. In fact, once the game began, Tillman had removed his pads and was in street clothes on the Tennessee sideline.

Vols head coach Josh Heupel provided a little more clarity on the situation after the game.

“Cedric could have played in this one,” Heupel said about Tillman on Saturday. “Everything that is going on, it has nothing to do with the ankle. He will be ready to go next week. As a program, we talked to him after warmups and felt like it was probably best that he sat this one out.”

Despite saying that Tillman will be “ready to go” this Saturday against South Carolina, Heupel was a little more noncommittal on Monday, yet still hopeful and optimistic.

“Obviously, it’s just Monday for us but as the week unfolds, we believe he’ll have the ability to play in this one,” Heupel said about Tillman on Monday. “We’ll always evaluate it on the back half of the week.”

More from RTI: Tennessee Opens As Multiple Touchdown Favorites At South Carolina

Heupel’s mention of an evaluation on Monday leads to believe that the ankle injury could be flaring back up. However, Heupel said that the ankle wasn’t the point of concern on Saturday, which muddies the water a little bit.

Regardless, though, Tennessee believes that Tillman will be ready to go, but the Vols aren’t ready to confirm that status.

Cedric Tillman ended the Georgia game with four receptions for 22 yards but found more of a groove against Kentucky with seven receptions for 68 yards.

While Jalin Hyatt and Bru McCoy deservingly receive most of the praise and attention in the midst of Tillman’s absence, one of the more unsung playmakers on Tennessee’s entire team, Ramel Keyton, has been terrific while stepping up and into the starting lineup. In the five games that Tillman has missed this season, Keyton has 14 receptions for 303 yards and three touchdowns. Keyton’s numbers jump up to 22 receptions, 417 yards, and four touchdowns on the 2022 season as a whole so far.

Keyton also threw in this Superman-type play against Florida.

South Carolina will host No. 5 Tennessee this Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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