On a day when Tennessee received news from the NCAA that tight end Brandon Warren was cleared to play, the Vols also learned that their most experienced tight end would be out of action for six to eight weeks.
Junior Jeff Cottam was sidelined throughout much of preseason camp with a sore leg that was slow to heal from a fracture suffered in spring practice and a persistently sore back.
On Tuesday, coach Phillip Fulmer revealed that it was the back that will keep Cottam on the sideline. Cottam will undergo surgery today in Memphis, his hometown.
Cottam played in 14 games last season, starting six. He caught four passes, one for a touchdown against Kentucky.
The string of injuries is cruelly ironic considering Cottam’s older brother, Brad, was sidelined for much of his career at UT with a myriad of injuries.
The injuries couldn’t hide Brad Cottam’s potential. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round in April’s NFL draft.
Crompton Has Sore Ankle: Quarterback Jonathan Crompton did not practice with the rest of the Vols on Haslam Field. The junior has been plagued for nearly a week with a sore ankle.
“He’s fine,” Fulmer said.
The ailment is not thought to be serious and resting him is only precautionary. It is unclear if Crompton will participate Thursday, the last full-scale scrimmage of preseason camp.
Crompton wasn’t wearing a brace on the ankle and didn’t walk with any limp following practice. He participated in last Saturday’s scrimmage with the ankle ailment and showed no signs of pain or being limited.
Practice Report: Part of the reason Crompton was excused from practice was for UT’s coaches to focus on their backups. Fulmer called the practice “National Twos-Get-Better Day”.
With the increased snaps at quarterback for backups Nick Stephens and B.J. Coleman, that is especially true as the two are battling to back up Crompton.
Fulmer said safety Eric Berry and receiver Gerald Jones also received snaps at quarterback.
MIA: With the first day of classes beginning today the clock continues to tick for signees Montori Hughes and Marlon Walls, both of whom are waiting to be cleared academically by the NCAA.
Walls is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound linebacker from Olive Branch (Miss.) High School. Hughes, who is from Siegel High in Murfreesboro, is packed and ready to head to Knoxville.
“It’s frustrating but I’m going to wait,” the 6-5, 275-pound defensive lineman said by telephone. “I feel pretty confident.”
Some at UT don’t feel the same. The two are expected to attend a prep school or junior college before being declared academically eligible.
The two have to be cleared to enroll by Aug. 29, the last day to drop and add classes at UT.
Injury Report: Freshman fullback Austin Johnson did not practice. He is sidelined with a sore left foot and was wearing a brace during practice. Defensive end Chris Walker is struggling with a sore groin.
Neither injury is thought to be serious. Both are expected to return within a week.
Drew Edwards contributed to this report.