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Pruitt confirms three Tennessee freshmen will redshirt

The Vols are taking advantage of a new NCAA rule.

NCAA Football: Tennessee Volunteers Practice Calvin Mattheis-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt confirmed that he plans on redshirting four players who have already seen time on the field this year. This, of course, is made possible by the NCAA’s new rule which states that you can play in up to four games without losing eligibility for a redshirt.

Freshmen J.J. Peterson, Kurott Garland and Cedric Tillman, along with sophomore Kivon Bennett will not play for the remainder of the season, Pruitt confirmed today after practice.

“I think this rule is great,” Pruitt said. “They prepare to play every week. Some of them have played on special teams. It’s something that you have to make a decision on, based of their role. Is it worth an entire year?”

Pruitt mentioned Garland specifically as a guy that has carved out 5-8 snaps per game in the rotation. The Vols will be without those extra bodies on Saturday and in the bowl game, if they beat Vanderbilt.

“We’re not going to play any of those guys,” Pruitt said, talking about the aforementioned group. “I’ve talked to them and I think moving forward it’s the best thing for those guys.”

Pruitt noted that it was only fair to those guys to save them a year of eligibility. He specifically mentioned linebacker J.J. Peterson, who didn’t even arrive at Tennessee until week two of the season. Pruitt referenced guys like Levi Wallace and Ryan Anderson as guys that were able to make big jumps late in their careers after redshirting early on.

“I remember when (Anderson) was a young kid, he was griping because he was getting reshirted,” Pruitt said. “He sure was proud that senior year, his fifth year. He probably improved his draft stock by four or five rounds.”

Greg Emerson and Kingston Harris will also be reshirting. John Mincey will not be eligible for the new rule, as he’s appeared in five games already.

If there’s one spot where Tennessee will have some turnover next year, it’s on the defensive line. Kyle Phillips, Shy Tuttle, Paul Bain and Alexis Johnson will all move on, freeing up plenty of snaps for guys like Harris, Mincey, Garland and Emerson.