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Josh Heupel Provides Update for Tamarion McDonald After Leaving Missouri Game with Injury

Tamarion McDonald
Tennessee STAR Tamarion McDonald (No. 12). Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee defensive back Tamarion McDonald went down with an injury during the first drive of the Vols’ game against Missouri in Columbia.

The senior from Memphis has been the starting STAR defensive back every game this season but did not return the game after suffering the injury against the Tigers on Saturday. McDonald only recorded one tackle against Missouri before leaving the game.

Fortunately for Tennessee, though, it doesn’t appear that the injury is long-term as head coach Josh Heupel gave an optimistic update during his weekly press conference in Knoxville on Monday.

“T-Mac (Tamarion McDonald) got nicked up early in the football game. I do believe that he’ll have an opportunity to be ready for this one (Georgia),” Heupel said.

McDonald had recorded 40 total tackles through the first 10 games of the season despite not playing much against Missouri. Twenty-three of Mcdonald’s tackles have been solo with the only 17 coming as assisted tackles. McDonald also has 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, and five passes defended.

McDonald’s best game this season came in Week 4 against UT-San Antonio as he recorded five solo tackles, two assisted tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, and one interception.

“T-Mac is our guy on the backend,” Tennessee defensive back’s coach Willie Martinez said about McDonald in mid-October. “He’s got to set the defense, he’s got to make the checks, he’s got to be a very productive player when he’s playing against the slots, from a run game and from a passing game. He’s done a tremendous job.”

More from RTI: Tennessee Receiver Out For The Remainder Of Regular Season

McDonald came to Tennessee as a three-star recruit in the 2020 recruiting class from Whitehaven High School in Memphis, Tennessee. McDonald originally committed to Mississippi State in May of 2019 but would later decommit that October and announced his commitment to Tennessee on the very same day.

With McDonald out, Tennessee turned to 6-foot-2 sophomore Jourdan Thomas to help the secondary finish the game against Missouri. Heupel was pleased with the work that Thomas showed on the field in the most he has played in a game this season.

“I thought Jourdan did some positive things, was destructive, and made some plays out on the perimeter,” Heupel said on Monday.

Tennessee will host AP No. 1 Georgia this Saturday in Neyland Stadium at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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