KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Where Tennessee defensive tackle Shy Tuttle is concerned, “encouraged is a good word,” Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said on Friday.
Tuttle, a 6-foot-2, 311-pound sophomore from Midway, N.C., was flashing brilliance as a true freshman before suffering a broken fibula and ankle ligament injury in UT’s 38-31 win over Georgia last Oct. 10.
Vols coach Butch Jones has said they will take Tuttle’s return day-by-day in practices.
Tuttle clearly wants to be with his teammates, shunning the green jersey to work out in orange, even as he still has limitations.
“He still has a ways to go, going into individual drills, then going into practices and team sessions,” Shoop said. “I thought yesterday was his best day, and clearly we’re still 13 days from the first game, so I’m very, very encourage by that.”
The Vols open the season on Thursday, Sept. 1, against Appalachian State at Neyland Stadium.
A healthy Tuttle would/will be in the Tennessee defensive line rotation, Shoop indicated.
“(It’s) still kind of fluid, I like the inside guys, Kendal (Vickers), Danny (O’Brien), Khalil (McKenzie) and hopefully Shy, but at the same time Quay Picou has been there every single day,” Shoop said.
“We have the versatility to move one of those outside guys inside, as we have fairly good depth outside,” Shoop said, referring to his defensive ends. “Everybody, Derek (Barnett) and Corey (Vereen) came back as incumbents and starters there, but I think LaTroy (Lewis), Kyle Phillips, (Darrell) Taylor, (Jonathan) Kongbo and Dimarya Mixon all deserve the opportunity to play.
“This isn’t youth league soccer, it’s not going to be balanced reps, but to get seven defensive ends the reps they deserve is challenging, (and) that’s why we’re trying to demonstrate to one of the guys why moving to the 3-technique would be a wise decision for him and in the best interests of the team.”
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s SEC Weekly and lives in Knoxville.
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