Jeremy Pruitt Says J.J. Peterson Has Stepped Away From Football Team

Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt met with the media on Wednesday evening to preview the Kentucky matchup, but also discussed the absence of lineback JJ Peterson.

 

Pruitt was asked about Peterson and how he’s progressing in the system, which prompted him to give an update.

“No he’s not, JJ is taking a couple weeks away from the team. He’s not been with us for a couple of weeks.”

Pruitt was asked a follow-up question about Peterson, which didn’t sound to promising for the return of JJ to the Tennessee team.

“No, I don’t think I want to comment on that. It’s something that JJ wanted to do, and me and him talked, had a really good talk about it. You know, that will be between me and him.”

When asked if he expects him back with the team, Pruitt said “We’ll see.”

As we’ve discussed on “The Drive” this week, Peterson hadn’t been seen around the facility for a while now.  I’ve been told that Peterson is still taking online classes, but it is definitely up in the air if he returns. If this is a full blown “opt out” then possibly he could return after this season, that’s yet to be determined fully.

Pruitt was also asked about the positive COVID cases in Gainesville and Nick Saban testing positive for the virus on Wednesday.

“It’s the reality. I don’t think there’s probably not any family across our country that has not been affected during this pandemic. Whether it’s somebody losing a family member or somebody getting COVID and missing work and going through the anxiety and trying to get well. We see it every day with our players, with our staff. I send my kids to school. I send them to school because they need it, and I also know that there’s a risk with that, so I get it. I hate it for anybody that has suffered through this. It’s tough times. But, one thing I will say, with the leadership of Greg Sankey and everybody at the SEC office, we’ve continued since March to find solutions, to find the answers to the problems and to give these student-athletes an opportunity to do something that they love to do and try to do it in the safest way possible. Obviously, it has been a tough day.”

Pruitt went on to praise SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey for his leadership during these times for colleges and student athletes.

With the uncertainty of players being eligible to play until after the final Covid test on Thursday’s, Jeremy Pruitt knows how anxious players are weekly.

“The reality of it is, we take a test tomorrow, which will be our third one of the week, and the kids work really hard to get prepared all during the week, at every school. But, until that third test comes back negative, these guys don’t know if they’re going to be able to play or not. There’s just a lot of anxiety, not only through our program but every program. It’s something that we understand. I feel like our team has handled it in a very positive way and we’ve got to continue to do that.”

Tennessee will be back on the practice field Thursday afternoon, as they continue preparing for Kentucky.

Continue following FOX Sports Knoxville for coverage of the 2020 season.

All images courtesy of Tennessee Athletic Communications