The Tennessee offensive line is in shambles, but they should get a boost from a player they thought was done for the season six weeks ago.
Jacob Gilliam entered the season with the expectation that he would anchor an offensive line that lost all five starters. Gilliam, a red-shirt senior, was going to add experience to the otherwise mostly freshman offensive line.
Unfortunately, everything went according to plan for only about four quarters. In the opener against Utah State, Gilliam tore the ACL in his left knee. This injury usually requires nine to twelve months to completely rehab after surgery. Everyone expected him not be able to get a medical red-shirt, thus ending his college career after his first start.
However, he surprised everyone when he decided not to have surgery. Gilliam wanted to rehab his knee well enough so he could play again this season. This decision was not a popular one to doctors. The problem with opting to not have surgery is that with no ACL, other ligaments and tendons are put at high risk to tear and cause permanent knee damage. Gilliam, knowing all the risks, was determined to play again this season. After a few weeks of rehab, he did just that against Ole Miss-just six weeks after the injury.
While he was used as just a substitute in that game, he is likely to start this week against Alabama.
Whether it is wise for his health to do this or not, his passion for his team is undeniable. Jacob Gilliam truly does give his all for Tennessee.
Edited by Will Lomas