Tennessee lost a piece of depth at running back today, as senior Carlin Fils-aime opted out of the 2020 season. The veteran runner was expected to slot in somewhere behind Eric Gray and Ty Chandler this fall.
Head coach Jeremy Pruitt broke the news today at his weekly press conference.
“Carlin graduated this summer, and he’s sitting out this season,” Pruitt told reporters on Monday. “He possibly may come back in January, but we’ve yet to decide that yet, and when that time comes, we’ll get together and decide that.”
Fils-aime has bounced around since Pruitt’s staff arrived, spending some time at defensive back before ultimately landing back on the offensive side of the ball. In three seasons of play, Fils-aime has 52 carries for 309 yards.
This is the second running back that Tennessee has lost for the 2020 season. Tim Jordan was dismissed from the program over the summer after an arrest. This leaves freshmen Tee Hodge and Jabari Small behind Chandler and Gray, who will handle the bulk of the work at the position. Len’Neth Whitehead is still rehabbing an injury from his senior season of high school, or else he would be firmly in the mix.
Tennessee has also been working 6-5, 225 pound freshman athlete Dee Beckwith at the position.
“(Carlin’s) a guy that has done everything we’ve asked him to do as a player since I’ve been here,” Pruitt said. “Unfortunately he’s had some injuries that’s kept him off the field, but has been a great student, role model, good teammate, and we would love to have him back, for sure.”
Eligibility is frozen for the 2020 season, which is why Fils-aime — or any other senior from this team — could return next season. Defensive lineman Darel Middleton has already announced his intentions to return in 2021.
With contact tracing and quarantining already showing how in can affect a team, depth is a crucial thing to have in place this season. It’s why Tennessee is training a guy like Beckwith at the position, just in case. Losing a veteran guy like this does hurt, though it may seem rather insignificant right now.