Leading tackler among four more Vanderbilt players to opt out of the 2020 college football season


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The SEC may be moving forward with plans to play football this fall, but at least five more Vanderbilt players will not. Commodores coach Derek Mason told Chris Low of ESPN that senior linebacker Dimitri Moore, along with offensive linemen Cole Clemens, Jonathan Stewart and Bryce Baile, have opted out due to ongoing concerns with the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Our kids are looking, listening and paying attention and making decisions for themselves, and that’s exactly what me and my program encourage,” Mason told ESPN. “You want these guys to be part of your program and part of your team, but not if they’re uncomfortable.”

The four players join kicker Oren Milstein, who previously announced he was opting out of the season as well. Moore was the team’s leading tackler in 2019 with 99 tackles. Clemens, Stewart and Balle all started games last season as well. Mason added that players with pre-existing conditions or certain body types could be predisposed to suffering severe symptoms from COVID-19. Offensive linemen could fall into that category. 

“I’ve got kids all across the gamut just like everybody else does,” Mason said. “Everybody needs to understand that there are going to be risk factors, but some kids are predisposed whether you’ve got an auto-immune issue or you’ve got a history of high blood pressure and heart issues. Those things are real. You continue to talk to your kids every week to make sure guys do feel comfortable. That’s what you do, because at the end of the day you don’t want any of them to feel pressure to play.”

Vanderbilt and other SEC programs are set to begin preseason camp on Monday. The league’s season starts Sept. 26, which is normally Week 4. 



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