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Austin Pope undergoes back surgery

A potential blow for Tennessee.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 UAB at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tennessee has a couple of unknowns on the roster as we inch closer to football season, one of which being the tight end position. Unfortunately, that position got a little murkier this afternoon.

Austin Pope, the only man at the position with legitimate playing experience, tweeted that he underwent back surgery on Thursday morning. Pope noted that he had been dealing with nerve pain recently and decided to get the issue checked out. He had already undergone back surgery two years ago.

Pope didn’t offer a timeline for a return.

Tennessee was likely set to lean on Pope in 2020 following the exit of Dominick Wood-Anderson. The Volunteers used Pope as a second tight end and fullback during the 2019 season, utilizing him as a key part of Tennessee’s rushing attack.

Pope is a fifth-year senior and this development obviously puts his final year at least in some doubt. Jacob Warren, Sean Brown, Jackson Lowe and Princeton Fant are the other options Tennessee now has at tight end. None of them have significant experience. This position battle will be one to follow closely in fall camp — whenever that may be.