Fulmer hopes the Vols can get off to a good start with three practices scheduled this week with sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. However, surgeries thinned the Volunteer ranks at center and defensive end and took a big chunk out of the kicking game.
Center Richie Gandy, a 6-5 senior, underwent surgery last Friday to repair damage to his ACL on his left knee and was released from the hospital Saturday. Gandy suffered an injury in mid-February during a campus intramural basketball game. The Darlington, S.C., native will miss the entire spring practice. Gandy appeared in 11 games on the offensive line last season, including five starts in the last six contests. He was expected to challenge for a starting position at center heading into spring practice.
Defensive end Jason Hall, a 6-3 senior, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Monday and was released from the hospital Tuesday. Hall, a native of Marietta, Ga., also was slated as a possible starter at defensive end entering the spring. Hall has seen action in 33 career games, including all 13 last season. Hall has career totals of 49 tackles, including 10.5 Big Plays of which four are sacks. Last year against Georgia, Hall earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording 12 tackles, three for lost yardage, and two sacks. He is expected to miss all of spring drills.
Placekicker James Wilhoit had right foot surgery on Monday in Charlotte, N.C. He is expected to be released from the hospital Tuesday. The junior from Hendersonville, has scored 166 points during his career and owns a field goal percentage of 65.9 (27 of 41). Wilhoit earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his game-winning field goal against Florida last year. Wilhoit will be unable to perform his kicking duties during spring drills.
On a brighter note, redshirt freshman Sinclair Cannon, who was involved in an auto accident Feb. 20 near his home in Greer, S.C., has returned to campus and attended classes Tuesday. The defensive back will not practice during the first week of spring drills and his status will be day-to-day as practices continue.