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Pruitt says Trey Smith plans on playing football again

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Positive news on a Tennessee star.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Star Tennessee lineman Trey Smith may not be able to participate, but that hasn’t stopped him from being out there on the practice field with his teammates this spring. The former No. 1 overall recruit can’t participate in drills, but he’s still been out there in a jersey and a helmet.

Smith is fighting to return to action for a second time, dealing with a blood clot issue. The same problem forced Smith to miss all of last spring. He ended up being eased into things in the fall, before the issue came back midseason. With the blood clots back, there’s legitimate concerns that go beyond football. Still, Smith hasn’t given up on the game.

“He’s part of the team,” Pruitt said on Monday. “Really, when it comes to be injured, he’s not injured. So Trey plans on playing football one day again — that’s his hope. That’s what he’s working hard to do. So he wants to make sure he gets an opportunity to watch from behind so he has a good idea about the calls and techniques and things.”

Tennessee’s offensive line group has dealt with some unexpected attrition this offseason. Drew Richmond is transferring, while Chance Hall retired due to medicals. Toss in Smith’s situation and that’s three starters you’re probably going to have to replace. That is, unless Smith gets cleared to play again.

“We’re under the same protocol,” Pruitt said of Smith. “He’s doing everything but contact right now. We go out there and do offseason conditioning, he’s running probably faster than everybody else at his position. So he does everything but contact.”

It’s been encouraging to simply see Smith out there with the team. It’s good to hear he’s doing everything but contact, too. We’re seemingly in the same situation that we were last year, but I’d guess the medical staff would be extra cautious this time around.

Smith started all 12 games as a freshman in 2017 before the blood clots were an issue. He was only able to play in seven games in 2018 before being shut down.

The thought of Smith playing alongside fellow five-star prospects Darnell Wright and Wanya Morris is exciting — let’s hope we get the chance to see that in the coming years.