Running back Tiyon Evans is reportedly doubtful to play in this weekend’s game against Pittsburgh, according to a few different sources.
The rumor has been going around on Twitter since early Thursday morning. Apparently John Brice asked Tennessee Head Coach Josh Heupel to comment on Evans’ status for this weekend’s game. Heupel apparently didn’t confirm or deny.
No. I said Heupel declined to say if Evans available v Pitt. I was asked about testing policies & said SEC established guidelines for both vaccinated & unvaccinated players. A vaxd player could conceivably test positive last weekend & be clear by Saturday https://t.co/pjyxvQ2jv6— John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) September 8, 2021
Today, we have this from Jimmy Hyams.
Tennessee RB Tiyan Evans, who led the Vols with 120 rush yards in the opener, is doubtful v. Pitt on Saturday due to health reasons, per sources. UT still hopeful Evans will be cleared. UT had 2 miss opener due to covid related issues: WRs Jimmy Holiday, Ramel Keyton.— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) September 9, 2021
“Health reasons” and “hopeful to be cleared” lead you directly to think COVID here.
As Hyams notes, receivers Jimmy Holiday and Ramel Keyton missed last week’s game due to COVID issues. The COVID rules are different this season — there will be no games postponed. If a team can’t compete due to too many positive tests, that team forfeits.
The SEC’s official COVID-19 plan of action can be found here, if you’re interested.
Evans’ unavailability hits Tennessee especially hard given how good he looked against Bowling Green last week. The Hutchinson Community College transfer (the same place Cordarrelle Patterson and Alvin Kamara transferred to Tennessee from) rushed for 116 yards and one touchdown in the opener. He was especially instrumental in Tennessee’s first drive after halftime that got the Vols’ offense back on track following a dismal second quarter.
The official depth chart has Evans listed as a co-starter with Jabari Small with freshman Jaylen Wright listed next. Marcus Pierce Jr. is likely in line for more carries after he got most of mop-up duty against Bowling Green. This also leaves the door (just barely) open for a possible Dee Beckwith sighting, too, or potentially Len’Neth Whitehead.
Tennessee plays Pittsburgh at noon on Saturday. ESPN has the coverage.