Vols tight end A.J. Branisel has been cleared to play this upcoming season, according to the sophomore’s Twitter account.
After 2 surgeries to fix my torn ACL and shoulder I have been officially cleared to play this season! Can’t wait to put the pads back on!!
— branisel (@AJ_vfl) July 17, 2014
Branisel played in ten games for the Vols in 2013 as a freshman, before tearing his ACL in late November and missing the final two games of the season.
Before Branisel’s injury, he caught three passes for 28 yards and one touchdown.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how the Volunteers’ depth chart will look at the tight end position this season. UT didn’t get much production from the position last year and 2014 doesn’t bring a lot of hope either.
The Vols have two freshmen, Ethan Wolf and Daniel Helm, in the mix this season, but it would be unfair to expect a lot from them this year.
Among the freshmen, Wolf probably has the inside track to playing time, due his reputation as a solid blocker.
But I wouldn’t discount Helm, as he brings a great deal of athleticism to the field as well.
Senior Brendan Downs will also be in the mix, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to stay healthy.
It’s likely that the Vols will go with a committee approach. Branisel has a great chance to be the de facto starter, but that might be more of a title than a true indication of playing time.
Regardless, it’s great news for the Vols that Branisel is back in the fold in 2014.