Nearly 50 Tennessee players have been quarantined since the team started preparing for the 2020 season.
The Vols were unable to scrimmage on Saturday as 44 players were unavailable. Some of those players were dealing with injuries that were not COVID-19 related, but coach Jeremy Pruitt said seven or eight players were currently sidelined with the virus and others were unable to practice because they were serving quarantines for being in contact with people who had tested positive.
“As we ramp up the testing we had a few more positives, which that’s going to happen. The big issue for us has been the contact tracing and that’s where we’ve had tons of players, to be exact to this date we’ve had 48 guys that have missed at least 14 days through the quarantine. And four of those guys have been quarantined twice,” Pruitt told reporters. “So probably you’re talking about 52 guys. In that, two of the guys who were in quarantine self reported they were around somebody with Covid and in the testing it ending up showing up that they had it.
“The other 50 guys, we’ve had one out of 50 that eventually tested positive for Covid. We’re just trying to get through the contact tracing. When a guy misses 14 days of practice, or 14 days of training, it’s had a cumulative effect with a few injuries here and there, nothing severe, but some guys have had to miss some practice time. It’s definitely been challenging.”
Saturday’s scrimmage was rescheduled from Wednesday. Pruitt said that the team had just 30 offensive players available so the team simply had a regular practice.
SEC backed up the start of the season
Tennessee would have been unable to field a football team at anything close to full strength or even at all if it had to play a game on Saturday.
Circumstances like Tennessee’s are why the SEC pushed the start of its teams’ seasons back to Sept. 26. The conference said that it wanted to delay the start to see how virus cases spiked at campuses across the conference and give teams more time to prepare and deal with any potential coronavirus-related practice delays. Teams across the country have had to pause workouts because of numerous coronavirus cases in their programs and TCU even had to call off next week’s game against SMU because of a COVID-19 outbreak within its team.
The SEC’s delay, however, doesn’t guarantee that a team won’t face a scenario in the middle of the season like Tennessee is facing now. With rapid testing availability steadily increasing, programs testing their players multiple times per week can get those test results quicker and quicker. And with quick test results, schools can ideally mitigate and isolate any potential outbreaks before they spread to the point of canceled practices and postponed games.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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