Tennessee Players Rally to Save Season: "We Want to Play"

Volunteer Country Staff

According to a report from College Football insider Brett McMurphy, the College Football season is on the cusp of being canceled due to concern of the Coronavirus Pandemic and the liability programs will face if their players contract the highly contagious respiratory illness. “(A) Power 5 source to Stadium: ‘College Football season is done,’” wrote McMurphy. “‘I don’t think everyone immediately follows (the MAC’s decision), but it gives league presidents one more reason to make an easier decision. Biggest thing is unknown long-term impact of COVID-19 and liability issues involved.”

In the hours that followed McMurphy’s report, which numerous other media outlets — including Sports Illustrated — were able to confirm, players across the nation took a stand, voicing their preference that the season begins normally. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence started the movement by taking to Twitter, writing: “I don’t know about y’all, but we want to play.” The presumptive 1st round draft pick would later go on to add that canceling the season would be risky for some players who came from environments with difficult access to health care and other essential services that they have access to as part of a college program.

“People are just as much, if not more at risk, if we don’t play,” added Lawrence. “Players will be sent home to their communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract COVID-19… Having a season also incentives players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting COVID because the season (and) teammates’ safety is on the line. Without the season, as we’ve already seen, people will not distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions.”

Immediately following Lawrence’s outspoken tweets about the potential cancellation, a multitude of other players followed his lead in hopes of saving the season. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Clemson linebacker James Skalski, and Clemson running back KJ Henry all made their hope for the season be known; one player even claimed, “I’d take a punch from Mike Tyson to be able to play.”

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano joined the movement late on Sunday night by sharing the players position on canceling the season, writing, “We want to play.” 

Guarantano has been voicing his excitement for his senior season for months, and numerous Tennessee players and fans supported Guarantano by retweeting his opinion, and many rushed to share that they agreed with the rising redshirt senior. Tennessee back-up quarterback Brian Maurer followed in Guarantano’s footsteps, and Jamie Hyatt — the father of incoming wide receiver Jalin Hyatt — would voice his support for the season soon after, stating, “Wouldn’t want him (Jalin) anywhere else!”

Henry To'o To'o also joined the movement.

While the reports from numerous media outlets claiming that the season is becoming increasingly unlikely to occur in part triggered the movement from players, the big event that triggered the outcry of support was caused by the Big Ten’s decision to reportedly cancel the fall football season — which was reported by Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger and confirmed by a multitude of others organizations. It was also reported that the Big Ten was trying to convince other conferences to follow in their footsteps for a conjoint announcement scheduled for next week.

As things stand right now, the season for Tennessee will start in late September; and they will play all of the teams they traditionally do in the SEC, as well as Arkansas, Auburn, and Texas A&M. The Big Ten, if the reports regarding their decision to cancel the season are true, will announce it any day, while the timetable for the SEC’s presumptive decision — if it will happen at all — remains unknown.

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