Tennessee Vols Rival Loses Key Defensive Player For 2017 Season

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 29: Chauncey Gardner
JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 29: Chauncey Gardner /

One of the Tennessee Vols’ biggest rivals, the Florida Gators, will be without one of their key defensive players in 2017.

The Florida Gators, perhaps the Tennessee Vols’ biggest rival in the SEC, announced on Thursday that starting safety Marcell Harris, a senior, will miss the entire 2017 season with a torn achilles.

Here’s part of the quote from Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain.

"Here is a kid who has made great personal growth during his time here and has really matured both on and off the field. It is tough to see a player invest so much in himself and his teammates and have this happen, but I do know that we will support him every step of the way as he works through this injury."

This is a big loss for Florida. Harris started eight games for the Gators last season, compiling 73 tackles, a sack and two interceptions. He was expected to be one of Florida’s defensive anchors in 2017.

Redshirt senior Nick Washington and sophomore Chauncey Gardner will likely be the two safeties leading Florida’s secondary in Harris’ absence.

Tennessee’s matchup with the Gators in the third week of the season is a key game for the Volunteers. If the Vols can start the season 3-0 with a win in the swamp against Florida, it will set the tone for the rest of the season.

But while this is a big blow for Florida, I still think the Gators have the advantage at home against Tennessee this season.

Next: Vols 2017 Game By Game Predictions

The Vols visit the Gators on September 16. Tennessee has only beat Florida one in their last 12 tries (the Vols erased an 18 point deficit in last season’s meeting). The Vols have only beat the Gators in back to back years twice in the last 47 years (1970-71 and 2003-04).