Vols Will be Without Starting TE for Season-Opener

Matthew Ray

Austin Pope announced ahead of fall camp that he had undergone surgery to repair a herniated disc. During Week One of Tennessee's fall camp, Jeremy Pruitt announced that he expected Pope to be back in time for the Vols season-opener.

Today, Pruitt provided a negative update on Pope. “Austin (Pope) is not going to play right now," Pruitt told reporters during a Zoom call.

Pope was likely to be the starter at tight end for the Vols this fall, but Pruitt did provide some insight into the remaining pieces in the room.

He said, "We’re working Princeton Fant, Sean Brown, Jordan Allen, Jacob Warren, so we’ve got a lot of guys that are getting reps in there. Most of those guys have played very little football for us, so they’ve got to work on their consistency, they’ve got to be able to block the C-area, they’ve got to play fast, they’ve got to be good communicators. That’s one position that you really need to be instinctive to have a feel because we ask the tight ends to do a lot. It’s a position where there’s lots of competition. I have confidence in all of those guys, but somebody’s got to separate themselves.”

Pruitt also added on the position group, "the tight end position we are working several guys there. It is a competitive spot. There’s not much difference in the guys. How they go about their business every day, how they practice, how they compete, what kind of habits they’ve created. They control it. We want to play the best players, and we’ve got some guys who are competing hard there to do that.”

It will be interesting to see who Tennessee plays at the position against South Carolina. The name we have heard the most buzz about is Princeton Fant. Pruitt did not specify the amount of time that Pope would be out for during the press conference.

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