We’ve got some unfortunate news to share from Rocky Top as Tennessee’s starting tight end, Austin Pope, has announced he had to undergo surgery this week due to an injury.

Set to enter his senior season with the Vols this season, Pope made 11 starts and played in all 13 games for Tennessee last season. Utilized as a punishing blocker in Tennessee’s offense, Pope helped play a major role in the team’s improved running game in 2019.

Unfortunately, the start of his senior season will be delayed as the tight end announced he had to have surgery after herniating a disc in his lower back.

“Sometimes life doesn’t always go the way we plan it. I’ve had hard times and challenges in my life, so this is nothing new to me. I recently have been dealing with a lot of nerve pain coming from my low back. I went to get an MRI Monday morning and the results were not what I expected. Doc told me I herniated yet another disc in my back, this time being at L3L4. I’ve been very down and disappointed because I already had back surgery two years ago for a different disc. I had surgery this morning and am recovering at home right now.

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“I really would appreciate any support in these tough times. I love this game, my teammates, and my coaches and I will do anything to help this program succeed. Prayers would be appreciated. Minor setback for a major comeback.”

The good news is this injury is not expected to sideline Pope for the season and he should manage to make a return to the field by the end of the season.