UT Football Season: The Fan’s Perspective

Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor (2) squares up on defense when Tennessee played UAB in Neyland Stadium on November 2, 2019. Photo/ Ben Gleason

Story By: Carmyn Gutierrez

Football season is officially in the works, which has many UT fans excited for the upcoming season. The current plan is for a kick off on Sept. 26 with an away game at South Carolina.

Though games have been confirmed, this season will look very different from previous years. University of Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman said in August that tailgates would not be permitted. Stadium attendance is expected to be about 25,000 – a quarter of its capacity.

The way players have been preparing for games also had to undergo some major changes.

Even with the coronavirus protocols in place, the athletes are trying to carry on as normal, said UT offensive lineman, Brandon Kennedy. These protocols include social distancing and wearing masks in public and at practice.

Other conferences have also canceled their seasons. “Your first reaction is kind of sad for those guys and the conference, but I know that the commissioner and people around our conference will make the best decision for us possible,” Kennedy said. “We’re excited whether we play or not. We want to play.”

Fans are also finding the circumstances challenging and expect some disruption.

“I don’t think all of the games will happen because one of the players will end up catching the virus and spreading it,” said Collin Jones, a junior at UT.

The risk is certainly real, as head coach Jeremy Pruitt confirmed that 44 players are currently out due to positive COVID-19 tests or contact tracing-related quarantines. This forced the team to cancel the scrimmage they had scheduled last weekend.

It’s clear that a lot of football season — and all it will entail  — is still up in the air, but fans are still ready to cheer on and support the Vols.