Tennessee star wide receiver Cedric Tillman will not play against Florida on Saturday because of an ankle injury, sources told ESPN.
Tillman injured his ankle last week against Akron midway through the second quarter. With Tennessee having a bye next week, there is optimism that he could return for the Volunteers’ next game at LSU on Oct. 8, sources said.
Tillman entered the season as the most productive returning receiver in the SEC and a first-team all-conference preseason selection, and he is considered Tennessee’s top receiving threat. In three games this season, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Tillman had 17 catches for 246 yards and a touchdown.
Tillman’s absence will be significant for a Tennessee offense that relies heavily on the passing game and vertical routes. Veteran Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker is expected to look more to dynamic slot receiver Jalin Hyatt, who is also a deep threat and is Tennessee’s leading pass-catcher this season with 18 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns. USC transfer Bru McCoy, who starts at the other outside wide receiver position, will likely see more targets. He has caught eight passes for 109 yards and one touchdown this year.
Replacing Tillman in the starting lineup is expected to be senior Ramel Keyton, who has five catches for 114 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Walker Merrill could also see increased snaps.
Tennessee enters Saturday No. 3 nationally in total offense (553.7 YPG) and No. 5 in passing offense (371.3). They are No. 4 in scoring at 52.0 points per game.