The Tennessee football team’s offensive and defensive lines each received a game-week boost on Wednesday, with defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon and offensive lineman Trey Smith both being cleared to play in Saturday’s season opener.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt emphasized the importance of each of the players being available ahead of Saturday’s matchup with Georgia State at 3:30 p.m.
“In the last two days we really got some good news, starting with Aubrey (Solomon),” Pruitt said. “He’s a guy that’s worked really hard since he’s been here. I’m glad to see that he gets rewarded and gets a chance to compete and play.
“Trey Smith is going to be able to play some snaps on Saturday. That’s a great thing for Trey. This is something that Trey and his family decided to do, and along with our doctors here at the university and people across the country, [we] have come up with a plan for him to be able to play the game that he loves.”
A two-year starter at various positions along the offensive line, Smith has played 19 games since arriving in Knoxville – all of them as a starter. He was named All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Freshman in 2017, starting games at left tackle, left guard and right guard. As a freshman in 2017, Smith captured FWAA Freshman All-America honors and in 2018 collected Preseason All-SEC First Team accolades.
Solomon, a former five-star recruit, appeared in 18 games at Michigan, totaling 24 tackles and two TFLs. He had 18 tackles and two TFLs while appearing in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2017 before being limited by injury in 2018.
“Everybody’s excited, fired up, ready to play,” Pruitt said. “You know you don’t get many opportunities, right? Everything we do, starting from when we were little kids playing in the back yard, playing Pop Warner, junior high ball, in the weight room, all the way, there are very few moments that you get to play in a game or coach in a game.
“So, you take advantage of it. And everybody in our program is excited about this game.”
Bituli Out For Opener
Pruitt announced Wednesday that senior linebacker Daniel Bituli is out for Saturday’s season opener.
Tennessee’s linebacker group boasts a wealth of experience and depth, with five scholarship upperclassmen.
“All of our linebackers could be our signal callers,” Pruitt said. We’ve got guys like Shanon Reid and Will Ignont that have been in the system for two years now.
“Jeremy Banks, he’s probably not ready to call signals, but he is a guy from last year when we moved him over from the fall really picked it up really fast. We got some guys in there that can operate.”
Preseason freshman All-American Henry To’o To’o could be the first true freshman to start at linebacker in the season opener since A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt in 2011.
Redshirt freshman J.J. Peterson and redshirt sophomore Solon Page join Reid, To’o To’o and Ignont round out the unit.