Tennessee freshman offensive lineman Melvin McBride is retiring from football just weeks after enrolling at the university. As it turns out, McBride was diagnosed with a personal medical condition while going through a physical on campus before officially beginning participating in offseason conditioning within the football program. McBride announced his retirement on his Twitter account Wednesday morning.
“Melvin is a great young man, and my heart breaks for him and his family,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said in a released statement. “However, I’m glad that we have an outstanding medical staff that did a great job identifying the problem when Melvin first arrived here. We are always going to do what’s best for our student-athletes here at Tennessee. He is certainly a Vol for Life and will continue to be a big part of our program.”
McBride was a three-star recruit in Tennessee’s Class of 2019. He had signed during the early signing period in December 2018. McBride originally committed to the Vols in August 2018, and he enrolled on campus just a couple of weeks ago.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt knew he needed to bulk things up on the offensive line if the Vols were going to begin making up any ground in the SEC. After signing one five-star offensive tackle in the early signing period in December, Tennessee added one more five-star player for the offensive line on Wednesday.
Darnell Wright, a five-star offensive tackle in the 247 Sports composite ranking out of West Virginia, followed up a recent official visit to Tennessee by declaring his commitment to the Vols on National Signing Day. Wright, who checks in at 6′-6″ and 320 pounds, chose the Volunteers over the in-state West Virginia Mountaineers as his recruiting process crosse the finish line on Wednesday.
Wright will saddle up next to Wanya Morris, another five-star tackle who enrolled at Tennessee in January after committing to the program in the early signing period. Tennessee’s efforts to improve the offensive line didn’t stop there, of course. The Class of 2019 for Tennessee also includes four-star guard Jackson Lampley from Nashville and extra bodies with Chris Akporoghene from IMG Academy in Florida, and Melvin McBride of Memphis.
The Vols needed to improve their offensive line in a big way. Tennessee was ranked 14th in the 14-team SEC last season in rushing offense, averaging just 3.7 yards per rushing attempt. Although the Vols fared better in limiting sacks compared to the rest of the conference, Tennessee still allowed 23 sacks last season, an average fo 1.92 sacks allowed per game. While that was sixth-best in the SEC, SEC East opponents Missouri, Florida, Georgia and Vanderbilt all had better numbers protecting their quarterbacks.