Vanderbilt football is dealing with several injuries as it prepares to open up SEC play against Kentucky in Week 4. Commodores coach Clark Lea offered a thorough update on those players’ status at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
Defensive lineman Christian James was the only player that Lea listed as out heading into the matchup against the Wildcats. James has still yet to make his season debut after recording 32 tackles (7.5 for loss) and three sacks in 2022.
“He had a minor setback after the trip to Wake Forest,” Lea explained. “Assuming he progresses the way that we think that he’ll progress this week, there’s a chance that he could be available for us next week.”
Lea also said that starting right tackle Junior Uzebu is doubtful after missing the past three games due to an injury he suffered in the season opener. Outside of that, safeties De’Rickey Wright and Savion Riley, offensive tackle Grayson Morgan and cornerback Jaylen Mahoney are all questionable.
Lea revealed that Riley has still yet to return to practice as he dealing with an upper body injury. Wright suffered an ankle injury in Week 1. He has played both of the games since then and recorded 16 tackles, but the Commodores are being careful with how much work they give him in practice.
“He’s been such a warrior the last two weeks,” Lea said. “Had to play a ton of snaps. I’ve got so much respect for him. Unfortunately, this is going to be something that persists up until we have a chance to rest it.”
Neither Mahoney nor Morgan practiced on Tuesday, according to Lea. Mahoney is dealing with a hip injury that caused him to leave Week 3’s contest against UNLV. He did not return but Lea said he is “hopeful” he can practice in full on Wednesday.
Morgan started in place of Uzebu on Saturday but apparently picked up a back injury.
“We’re gonna give it a go tomorrow and see where he is,” the coach said of Morgan. “If he can get some work in by Thursday, I would expect him to be able to go on Saturday. Just dealing with a back issue that’s nothing major but nagging enough to have kept him out today.”
“That’s gonna require a number of guys to prepare as though they are the starters,” he said. “It gives us a chance to showcase our depth and for people to have opportunities to carve out roles for themselves. We’re excited about that.” are all probable.
Kickoff between Vanderbilt and Kentucky is set for noon ET on Saturday in Nashville.
Clark Lea provides additional updates on long-term injuries for Vanderbilt
In a follow up update, Lea offered some information on how a few other players who have long-term injuries are progressing. Safety Steven Sannieniola missed most of last season and is still recovering from offseason surgery.
Lea explained that he is likely to redshirt this season. Sannieniola has still not returned to practice, but a positive sign was that he got some work in off to the side.
“Was able to do agility work today, so he’s on a progression,” Lea said. “I would imagine that in the next couple of weeks we might see him be able to get back to practice. At this juncture with the amount of time he’s missed, which was the entire spring and most of last season, this would be a year that we’ll bank for him just because he’s gonna need time to reacclimate.
“If we can get some work out of him before the end of the season, that’d be great. But I think this is an important year for him to get an extra year of eligibility.”
Linebacker Errington Truesdell has also not been able to practice due to a back injury. However, fellow linebacker and Notre Dame transfer Prince Kollie made his return to the practice field on Tuesday.
Like Sannienniola, Lea expects to redshirt Kollie but could still see some game action later in the year.
“He’s been out for a while so he’s gotta get back in shape,” the coach said. “It was good to see him out there. He’s got a year that he can hang onto as well. So we’ll see how he recovers and what kind of impact he can make, but that may not go beyond four games.”