An all SEC schedule would be challenging enough, but the task grows more difficult each day as more Commodore football players are electing to opt out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. After kicker Oren Milstein became the first SEC player to announce his decision a couple of weeks ago, some of his Vandy teammates followed suit over the weekend.
On Saturday ESPN’s Chris Low reported linebacker Dimitri Moore, as well as offensive linemen Cole Clemens, Jonathan Stewart, and Bryce Bailey told Coach Derek Mason they planned to sit out the season.
Losing Moore, the team’s leading tackler, is a critical blow for a defense looking to rebound from a disastrous 2019 performance. The redshirt junior was named to the 2020 Butkus Award watch list (given annually to the top linebacker in college football) and listed as the No. 100 NFL draft prospect by CBS.
Likewise, losing three offensive linemen is hardly ideal for a team looking to replace its quarterback, and highly touted stars at running back, wide receiver, and tight end from last season. Senior Clemens was a returning starter from last season. Redshirt junior Stewart started three games last season and was considered the favorite to start at right tackle. Versatile redshirt junior Bailey started two games at guard and even started a game as a blocking tight end.
After telling ESPN “we’ve had five or six opt out” this weekend, Mason continued cryptic hints at more players to come following the team’s first practice Monday. “We have had several (to opt out), but I won’t speak to specifics,” Mason said to Adam Sparks of the Tennessean. “I am going to let the dust settle. I am good right now with saying ‘several.’ We support those guys.”
As the season draws closer, COVID-19 watch continues…