As the Tennessee Volunteers prepare for their second straight road trip and first SEC match of the season, there are still a few questions left as to who may play this weekend against the Gators.
Last week the Vols finally received senior defensive end Jacques Smith back to the lineup, but will again be without junior linebacker Curt Maggitt who is still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered last season.
Also, after declaring the quarterback position an open position after Tennessee’s embarrassing loss to Oregon last week, coach Butch Jones has still yet to name a starter for Saturday’s game against the Gators.
In his weekly Monday presser Jones said he wants to implement more quarterback runs in the game plan this week, and told the media even if that meant starting a freshman then so be it. Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian both said it could be as late as pre-game warmups before they name a starter.
One bit of good news and certainty for the Volunteer faithful is that freshman defensive end Corey Vereen will make his long awaited debut this weekend against Florida. The Florida native was rated as a 4-star linebacker by ESPN coming out of high school, and recorded 15 sacks as a senior. He was also ranked No. 3 in the Orlando Sun Sentinel’s Central Florida Super60.
As a junior he set the West Orange High School record for sacks with 16, and in his initial debut as a Vol, in the annual spring game, he finished tied for second overall in total tackles with five.
Vereen’s regular season debut couldn’t come at a better time for Tennessee after losing Maurice Couch after a Yahoo Sports report surfaced last week about a pay-for-play scandal involving him, and the loss to fellow defensive lineman Trevarris Saulsberry against Oregon this past Saturday.
Tennessee is beginning to wear thin on the defensive line early in the season and will need all the help they can get, especially with the gauntlet of the next four out of five games on their schedule where they are set to face Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama with only one off week included. Between playing Florida and Georgia the Vols will play South Alabama on Sept. 28 at 12:21 p.m. on the SEC Network.
Tennessee will face Florida for their annual matchup Saturday, September 21 at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.