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Tennessee kicker Brent Cimaglia opts out of the remainder of the season

A frustrating season comes to an end for Cimaglia.

NCAA Football: Gator Bowl-Indiana vs Tennessee Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee’s senior kicker Brent Cimaglia has opted out of the remainder of the football season, with just a couple of games left. Right in the middle of Jeremy Pruitt’s Monday press conference, Cimaglia made the announcement.

“Due to many hardships and struggles within the program, it is my best interest to take this additional time to rehabilitate ongoing injuries,” Cimaglia said in the note.

(The wording of that sentence above is — uh — interesting. He could simply be saying that these final two games don’t matter and he needs to be healthy. Or it could go a little deeper. I’ll let y’all decide for yourselves.)

The timing of the post gave the media a chance to ask Pruitt about the situation.

“He’s played through difficult circumstances throughout the season,” Pruitt said. “His indication to me is, yeah, he’s coming back next year.”

Pruitt said that punter Paxton Brooks would take over field goal duties for the remainder of the season, which could change Tennessee’s offensive approach in the final games, depending on how much confidence they have in him. Brooks has not handled place-kicking duties since high school.

For Cimaglia, this ends a frustrating season that saw him take a step backwards statistically, clearly battling injuries along the way. After going 23-27 in 2019, Cimaglia was just 5-9 in 2020. He made 19-20 extra points.

As a senior, as Pruitt noted, Cimaglia can choose to return if he wants to do so under the NCAA’s modified 2020 rules. Tennessee is expected to add kicker JT Carver as a preferred walk-on next season.