By 99.1 The Sports Animal Staff / @SportsRadioWNML
Tennessee Volunteers redshirt senior starting tight end Austin Pope tweeted Thursday that he had to have back surgery to repair a herniated disc and he is home recovering. This is his second back surgery. The Knoxville native and CAK product, Pope, explains below.
Tough times don’t last, tough people do. pic.twitter.com/2ixcqeJYYo
— Austin Pope (@Austin_Pope31) July 16, 2020
Pope (6’4, 235) did not offer a recovery timeline or range of time, but it’s hard to image much, if any contribution from Pope this football season. There could be an option of applying for a sixth year of eligibility for medical hardship. Teammate Brandon Kennedy, starting center, is slated to play this season after receiving that extra year season from the NCAA. So, there could still be hope that Pope’s career at UT is not over.
Pope played in all 13 games in 2019, starting 11 of those contests. He recorded four catches fir 21 yards. He’s played in 33 career games with 14 starts. Pope is a fantastic run blocker that does many things not seen on stat sheets.
Without Pope, at the moment, UT has zero career starts at the position among the 5 remaining scholarship tight ends…Princeton Fant, Jordan Allen, Jacob Warren, Sean Brown and Jackson Lowe.
As Brent Hubbs from Volquest pointed out on SportsTalk Thursday, you wonder if the Vols will look to the transfer market for a tight end. Also, OC Jim Chaney will be tasked to be creative with scheme and personnel to make-up for the run-blocking lost without #81 on the field.