Even as it may be too late to save his head coach’s job, buyout or not, Tennessee could see the return of its top running back for this weekend’s non-conference matchup.
Rajion Neal led the SEC in rushing yards through the first five games of the season, but suffered an ankle injury in the Oct. 13 loss to Mississippi State. That injury cost Neal the next two games as the Vols’ running game ground to a near halt; Neal had rushed for 500 yards in five-plus games, while UT could manage just 170 total in losses to Alabama and South Carolina without him.
This Saturday against Troy, though, Neal could be back. Even as Neal’s not 100-percent healthy, Derek Dooley said Tuesday the back “could definitely play.”
For his part, Neal is optimistic. And champing at the bit to get on the field with his teammates.
“It’s really hard to put in words how hard it is to sit over there on the sideline in your uniform knowing that you can’t really go out there and help your team,” Neal said according to the Chattanooga Times Free-Press. “That’s a big challenge, and I didn’t know it was going to be that hard. It’s a terrible feeling, a real terrible feeling, especially when you see how close these guys are getting and how they’re out there fighting.”