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Jeremy Pruitt updates status of freshman RB Len’Neth Whitehead

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A lingering injury.

Tennessee v Florida Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

One of Tennessee’s highest-rated signings from the class of 2020 might not be able to find the field until late this season, Jeremy Pruitt announced over the weekend. Len’Neth Whitehead, a four-star athlete who will start his career at running back, is still rehabbing from an injury that he suffered in high school.

“(Whitehead) had a significant injury, and we knew that when we signed him,” Pruitt told reporters on Saturday. “Len’Neth has really progressed very well with his rehab. He’s not practicing as far as full-speed reps.”

Tennessee is expected to lean on Ty Chandler and Eric Gray, but depth behind those two remains a question. Senior Carlin Fils-aime returns, while freshmen Jabari Small and Tee Hodge join the room. The Vols lost Tim Jordan earlier in the offseason after he was arrested in Florida on gun charges.

Whitehead’s injury situation is going to keep him from potentially cracking the rotation early on. That’s a shame too, because Whitehead has size that the other backs don’t. The Athens, Georgia native stands in at 6-2, 225 pounds — something the Volunteers could certainly use in short-yardage situations.

“He’s doing individual and things like that, but hopefully in three to four weeks he’ll be at a point where he can start taking full-speed reps,” Pruitt said. “If he’s able to do that, maybe in the last half of the year, he might get a chance to play a little bit, but again, he’s right on schedule with where he’s supposed to be, and he’s working hard to get there.”

Whitehead ran for over 1,400 yards and 25 touchdowns in his final full season of high school in 2018. There’s little doubt that the COVID-19 outbreak kept Whitehead from properly rehabbing, which could put his 2020 season in doubt. Hopefully by the end of the year he has a chance to make an impact.