Ole Miss Getting Three Defenders Back After COVID-19, Contact Tracing Frustrations Arise

Nate Gabler

Ole Miss is not in doubt of having too few players to play a game this week at Vanderbilt due to COVID-19 issues. For the first time in two weeks, it seems like even Vanderbilt isn't having that problem. 

However, Rebel head coach Lane Kiffin is still really frustrated over the SEC policies that have kept some of his defenders out the past few weeks. 

Ole Miss has been without three defenders – Tariqious Tisdale, Deane Leonard and Jakorey Hawkins – for two weeks because of COVID-19. All three will be returning this week, but Kiffin said Tisdale and Hawkins had never even tested positive.

"We usually don't discuss that, but those guys are back," said head coach Lane Kiffin on Monday. "Which back to another thing. We've got two defensive players that are 13 days out when we play Saturday, obviously would have helped us. No symptoms, no positives and they can't play. But if you had (COVID-19) 10 days ago yourself, you could have played.

"I told you guys all along I don't understand why players are sitting out, symptom free, 13 days after a close contact, not being able to play in a game. We're sitting here in a game playing two players that were on offense in crunch time, on defense a week after being on offense."

It's a Rebel defense that could welcome the return of these three players, particularly the defensive backs in Leonard and Hawkins. Senior free safety Jaylon Jones will be out for the season after having surgery for an 'upper body injury,' so the team is in need of some depth in that department. 

But ultimately, Kiffin is just wondering what took so long? Why were Hawkins and Tisdale out so long when they never even tested positive?

“That to me is the part that’s really frustrating,” Kiffin said last week. ”Schools have different rules of saying ‘Oh, I think you were around that guy’ or ‘No you weren’t.’ I think in some cases School A is going to play a guy where in the exact same situation School B doesn’t. And that’s really frustrating.”

Ultimately, this is all good news – the Rebels have three more players on defense than they did one week ago. But it still makes you question why they were missing them in the first place. 

More From The Grove Report:

SEC Issues Statement on Ole Miss v. Auburn, Lane Kiffin Fined

WATCH: Lane Kiffin Frustrated Following Conversation with SEC Officiating

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