Consider his credentials:
- He was a top-100 recruit.
- He was a mid-term enrollee who would benefit from participating in spring practice.
- He was the grandson of former Vol All-American Darris McCord.
Given all of the above, the 6-6, 295-pound offensive line prospect from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., seemed capable of stepping in and helping right away.
Not so. Sawtelle sat out the 2007 season as a redshirt and almost certainly will miss the '08 season while recuperating from two arthroscopic surgeries. He recently underwent an operation on his left shoulder and will undergo a procedure on his right shoulder in July. Trainer Jason McVeigh projects that Sawtelle should be back in pads in time for spring practice of 2009.
In other injury news, incoming freshman receiver Rodriquez Wilks underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Monday. He is projected to be available in time for the beginning of preseason drills, however.
Wilks, a 6-2, 205-pounder from Smyrna, was rated a three-star prospect and the nation's No. 75 receiver recruit by Scout.com. He was a two-time all-state pick at Smyrna High, registering a school-record 77 catches for 1,170 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior. He also recorded 62 tackles and six interceptions as a cornerback.
Wilks was the Defensive MVP of the Class 5A state championship Game, leading Smyrna to its second consecutive TSSAA title. He is a brother of current Vol cornerback Marsalous Johnson, who started the first seven games of 2007 before suffering a season-ending knee injury.