Like older brother Brad, Jeff Cottam seems unable to stay healthy long enough to maximize his potential as a tight end. Head coach Phillip Fulmer announced following Tuesday's practice that Jeff will undergo back surgery Wednesday in Memphis and be lost to the Vols for six to eight weeks.
Cottam, a 6-8, 265-pound junior from Germantown, was hampered by an assortment of injuries in 2007, then missed spring practice last March and April due to a fractured fibula. The situation is eerily reminiscent of that of his older brother, who missed half of his senior season due to a fractured wrist and made just 10 career starts as a Vol due to various injuries.
With Brad Cottam and Chris Brown out of eligibility, Jeff was projected to be Tennessee's No. 1 tight end in 2008 after catching four passes for 19 yards and a touchdown last fall. Oddly enough, the Vols gained a tight end on the same day they lost one. Earlier Tuesday the NCAA ruled that it has granted a waiver giving Florida State transfer Brandon Warren immediate eligibility for '08.
Warren left FSU in February of 2007 to attend to his mother, who is battling cancer in nearby Alcoa. Because Warren had not completed the required one year of residency at FSU, he was supposed to sit out two years before being eligible at UT. Citing the extenuating circumstances of his mother's health problems, however, the NCAA decided to cut the wait in half.
“We’re thrilled that he became eligible this morning,” Fulmer said. “I think its a great compliment to him and the hard work that he put into it. I know he is very pleased, and his family is very pleased.
“Brandon has a great opportunity in front of him now, and he needs to fully take advantage of it in every way.”
In addition to Warren, Tennessee's tight end candidates include sophomore Luke Stocker and freshman Aaron Douglas.
In other news, Fulmer announced that three former walk-ons have been awarded scholarships. They are linebacker Nick Reveiz, center/guard Cody Sullins and deep snapper Morgan Cox. All three are native Tennesseans.
Reveiz, a 5-10, 225-pound sophomore from Farragut, led the Vols in special teams tackles last fall with 15 (10 solo, 5 assists). Son of former Vol placekicker Fuad Reveiz, Nick is listed No. 2 at middle linebacker behind Ellix Wilson heading into the 2008 season.
Sullins, a 6-1, 285-pound junior from Cottontown, is a key reserve at both center and guard. He saw mop-up action in three games last fall but appears to be in line for significant reserve time in '08.
Cox, a 6-4, 225-pound junior from Collierville, is back for his second season as the deep snapper on punts and placements, a job he handled flawlessly last fall.
“It's always thrilling when you are able to reward young men for their efforts,” Fulmer said. “Particularly young men that have great character, work ethic and bring a spirit to your team.
“Morgan Cox has been a contributor for a year and taken a leadership role within the kicking group. Nick Reveiz played last year and played well for us on special teams. Cody Sullins is the essence of why you coach football. He comes to work every day; he’s a great student and a yes-sir, no-sir guy. He’s in position to be our backup center.”