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Tennessee is running out of players due to Covid-19

The Vols had 44 players miss practice today. That’s a problem!

Tennessee Volunteers head coach Jeremy Pruitt walks to the sideline during the 2020 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl game between the Indiana University Hoosiers and the Tennessee Volunteers on January 2, 2020 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL. Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It looks like we might have a problem in Knoxville, as a combination of positive Covid-19 tests and contact tracing has sidelined nearly half the Tennessee Volunteers roster.

We won’t weigh in from a public health perspective as we’re not epidemiologists here, but from purely a football one this is incredibly challenging for a team that has just 20 days until their opener at South Carolina on September 26th. Normal NCAA roster limits are 85 scholarship players and 105 players, but those are a bit more fungible due to Covid-19 this season.

The Vols were scheduled to have a team scrimmage today, but opted for a regular practice instead with just 30 players available. They aren’t the first SEC school to run into that problem, as Auburn went back to practice earlier this week down 16 players.

The NCAA rules for return to play say players who test positive must sit for 10 days and show no symptoms for three days before returning, and those who have had “high risk” contact with teammates have to sit out for 14 days.

If this trend continues, it seems likely we’ll see even more cancelation of games such as TCU and SMU did earlier this week. Tennessee was ranked #25 in the initial AP poll.