The Tennessee Vols, along with the rest of the SEC, are facing plenty of roster challenges this fall due to COVID-19.
Numerous Vols have been forced to miss valuable practice time due to either contracting COVID-19 or contact tracing.
But no one on Tennessee’s roster has been affected quite like sophomore offensive lineman Wanya Morris.
The Georgia native, who was rated as a five-star offensive tackle during the 2019 recruiting cycle, has been forced into quarantine twice this fall because of COVID-19. As a result, Morris has only practiced twice in the last 23 days.
“Both of those guys have been hit with the quarantine (Morris and defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon), Wanya twice. He practiced today. I think it’s the second time he’s practiced in 23 days,” said Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt on Thursday during a virtual media session with reporters.
Morris is expected to be one of the Vols’ starting offensive tackles in 2020, so it’s imperative that he gets plenty of reps over the next week.
Ultimately, I think Morris is talented enough that he will be okay with the missed practice time. But it’s still never ideal to practice only twice in 23 days.
Continuity is especially important along the offensive line, which is something that Pruitt mentioned on Thursday.
“As an offensive lineman, you get used to playing beside somebody,” explained Pruitt. ‘You get a feel as you’re working a combination when I can move on to the linebacker or when I need to stay or when I need to kind of slow down to let him catch up, because everybody’s a little different. So, I do think it’s important about those guys kind of playing together.”
There’s no doubt that continuity has been disrupted with Morris (and others) out. But this is still one of Tennessee’s strongest units. They may struggle early in the season, but that doesn’t mean they’re underachieving.
The Vols, along with the rest of the SEC, will face a lot of different challenges to start the 2020 season. Some teams will be further ahead than others. This is going to be a season where we shouldn’t make sweeping judgments about coaching staffs, because this is something that no one has ever dealt with before in college sports.
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