Tennessee tight end Austin Pope undergoes surgery for herniated disc again

Mike Wilson
Knoxville News Sentinel

Austin Pope, the Tennessee Vols' most experienced tight end, had surgery Thursday on a herniated disc.

The Vols senior wrote on Twitter that had been dealing with "nerve pain" stemming from his lower back. It is his second herniated disc procedure, as Pope said he had another two years ago.

"I had surgery this morning and am recovering at home right now," Pope said. "I really would appreciate any support in these tough times."

Pope shared that he had an MRI on Monday morning, leading to unexpected results. He was informed he had a herniated disc. 

"I've been very down and disappointed because I already had back surgery two years ago on a different disc," Pope wrote.

Pope did not indicate a timetable for return.

The Christian Academy of Knoxville graduate is easily the most proven player among Tennessee's tight ends. He has played in 33 games in his career, including 14 starts. Pope has been used primarily as a blocker in the offense. He has only seven career receptions for 85 yards.

Junior Princeton Fant has played in eight games in his career as the second-most experienced tight end. Sophomore Jacob Warren played in five games, while Sean Brown and Jackson Lowe redshirted.

Senior Jordan Allen moved from linebacker to tight end during the spring, which was cut short due to COVID-19.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.