In a season that saw Tennessee rebound to 7-5 and show a ton of growth on both sides of the ball, it’s easy to forget who they lost in the preseason. Emmit Gooden was supposed to be the anchor of this defensive unit after a strong junior season. But that didn’t happen.
Gooden was lost for the year with a torn ACL, forcing other unproven names to step up and hold things down. Directly after the injury was announced, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt confirmed that Gooden would be working back to play in 2020. On Monday, Pruitt confirmed that trajectory.
“He’s about five months now, so he’s progressed really well,” Pruitt said. “Emmit, he’s done a nice job in the rehab, and our medical staff done a really good job with him. He probably will be ready for spring.”
The former Last Chance U star really came on at the end of the 2018 season. He signed with Tennessee as a four-star JUCO prospect with two seasons left to play. 2020 will mark his third year in the program, finally with a chance to make a huge impact.
Gooden isn’t the only senior sticking around in 2020. Receiver Brandon Johnson, defensive back Baylen Buchanan and running back Carlin Fils-aime have all redshirted and are coming back to help the program next season.
Gooden’s presence will add to an already deep defensive line rotation, one that has started to become a strength for Tennessee. Pruitt’s staff has added size over the last three recruiting classes, finally getting the Vols back to looking how they should up front. You’re seeing that reflected in the win column, too.