Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced on Thursday that starting left tackle Trey Smith will be out indefinitely after blood clots were rediscovered in his lungs.

Smith, a sophomore, missed all of spring practice and a large chunk of fall practice dealing with the same issue.

This is incredibly unfortunate news for Smith and his family.

Smith’s health is obviously the main concern here. Hopefully he’s able to make a full recovery and proceed in life with no issues due to the blood clots.

It’s also unfortunate for Smith because it puts his professional football career in jeopardy. Smith is a first round talent who, if healthy, could go to the NFL after the 2019 season. He’s the type of player that could play 10-12 years in the NFL. But now, there’s a reasonable chance he never plays football again. It doesn’t seem fair that Smith, one of the hardest workers in the Tennessee football program, could possibly have a promising career viciously ripped away.

Pruitt’s first priority is to make sure Smith gets healthy and can resume his daily life without limits. That might mean no more football, but that’s not what’s most important.

Of course, Pruitt can’t just ignore Smith’s absence on the football field. The Vols have a massive hole to fill with Smith out indefinitely.

And let’s be honest — there’s no way Tennessee can replace Smith this season. He’s the best offensive lineman on the roster.

But Pruitt will have to do what he can to make sure the Vols have an offensive line that can help get the team to six wins.

That means Tennessee will likely try several new offensive line combinations to see what works. It could mean that Marcus Tatum sees more playing time. Or perhaps Jahmir Johnson will see more action.

Unfortunately for Pruitt, there’s no clear answer. It’s going to be a lot of trial and error moving forward to see what works.

I’m sure we’ll see a litany of offensive line combinations when Tennessee takes on South Carolina on Saturday. I don’t think Pruitt will hesitate to make changes when he sees a certain combination not working.

Whatever ends up being the case, I’m certain that I don’t envy Jeremy Pruitt at all.

Worrying about one of your players having blood clots and what that might mean for his longterm health, combined with replacing the best player on a makeshift offensive line seems like more stress than one person should have to deal with when coaching a college football team.

But then again, maybe that’s why I’m typing words and Pruitt is coaching football.

Featured image via ESPN

 

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