At least four more Vanderbilt football players have opted out of the 2020 football season over concerns about coronavirus, ESPN reported on Saturday.
The four players—linebacker Dimitri Moore and offensive linemen Cole Clemens, Jonathan Stewart and Bryce Bailey—bring Vanderbilt’s number of opt-outs to five, as placekicker Oren Milstein became the first to opt out on Aug. 3.
A spokesperson for Vanderbilt athletics was unable to confirm the opt-outs to The Hustler, but Jonathan Stewart publicly announced his decision via Twitter. Vanderbilt football is scheduled to begin practice on Monday, and Head Coach Derek Mason is expected to address the roster adjustments in a subsequent press conference.
While Mason did not confirm the players’ names to ESPN, he acknowledged that the total number of opt-outs has grown since Oren Milstein’s decision on Aug. 3.
“We’ve had five or six opt out, and I know there will be several across the league as this thing gets closer,” Mason said to ESPN. “Our kids are looking, listening and paying attention and making decisions for themselves, and that’s exactly what me and my program encourage. You want these guys to be part of your program and part of your team, but not if they’re uncomfortable.”
Moore, a redshirt junior, started nine games at inside linebacker in 2019 and was the Commodores’ leading tackler with 48 solo tackles and 99 total tackles. Redshirt juniors Bryce Bailey and Jonathan Stewart, along with senior Cole Clemons, all had starting experience on the Commodore offensive line in 2019.
Vanderbilt athletics has not released any information regarding its testing protocol for student-athletes, nor has it publicly reported any positive COVID-19 tests.
“There has to be a level of comfort with everything that’s going on,” Mason said to ESPN. “And I feel good about the way we’ve gone about it here at Vanderbilt.”
This article will be updated with quotes and subsequent opt-outs as that information is made available to The Hustler.