It was a newsy day on Rocky Top as Jeremy Pruitt delivered two pretty big pieces of information. First off, he confirmed the season-ending knee injury to starting defensive tackle Emmit Gooden, then he told the media that offensive lineman Nathan Niehaus had left the Tennessee football program.
Pruitt didn’t say much about the situation, but did say that it was “absolutely” Niehaus’ decision to leave.
Niehaus started six games for Tennessee during the 2018 season after not seeing any action in his previous two seasons in Knoxville. The move is another obvious hit to Tennessee’s offensive line depth, which has seen freshman guard Melvin McBride retire, senior tackle Chance Hall retire along with senior tackle Drew Richmond transfer.
Tennessee still has capable bodies on the depth chart, thanks to a focus on offensive line recruiting over the last two seasons. Brandon Kennedy, Trey Smith, Jahmir Johnson, Jerome Carvin, Ryan Johnson, Riley Locklear, K’Rojhn Calbert and Jackson Lampley all are guys capable of playing on the interior.
Niehaus signed with Tennessee in the class of 2016, ranking as a three-star prospect out of Cincinnati.
UPDATE: Niehaus explained on Twitter today that he retired due to injuries.