Tennessee offensive starters Cooper Mays, Ramel Keyton and Jaylen Wright are all set to play against South Carolina Saturday night, On3’s Matt Zenitz first reported.
Keyton and Wright each suffered injuries last week against UTSA and did not return in the Vols’ lopsided win over the Roadrunners. Tennessee coach Josh Heupel expressed optimism that both would play against the Gamecocks in his Thursday press conference.
“Really all the guys that you didn’t see at the end of last week have had a really good week,” Heupel said. “As always, (they’re) game time decisions but feel really good about all of them.”
Wright leads Tennessee with 312 rushing yards this season and has been the Vols’ best offensive play maker this season. Keyton leads Tennessee with 205 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.
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While Keyton and Wright have only missed half a game this season, Tennessee starting center Cooper Mays has yet to play this season after having a sports hernia during the Vols’ fall camp.
Heupel has expressed optimism that Mays will play each of the last two weeks but the Vols’ starting center didn’t play at Florida or against UTSA.
“Practiced really well,” Heupel said about Mays. “Like those other guys that I talked about, we will ensure that through tomorrow and then game day that they are ready to go compete at the level that you need to in this one. South Carolina is big, strong, physical, explosive up front. Hopefully we will have him locked and loaded and ready to roll.”
Tennessee has started left guard Ollie Lane at center in Mays’ place for the first four games while Texas transfer Andrej Karic has started at left guard. Mays returning would provide a big boost for Tennessee’s inconsistent offensive line.
Kickoff between the Vols and Gamecocks is at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday night. Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic are on the call for the SEC Network.