With the Texas State Bobcats set to open the season against SMU on Saturday, four players have been ruled out due to quarantine after contact tracing.
As the Bobcats released their Week 1 depth chart late this afternoon a few positional notes raised a few eyebrows. Backup QB Tyler Vitt and his roommates, Seth Caillouet and Jackson Lanam as well as transfer DB Tory Spears were all absent from Saturdays’ line-up. Just hours after the depth chart release, Keff Ciardello of the Austin American Statesman reported that all four players have been officially ruled-out of Saturday’s home opener due to quarantine.
The program has yet to clarify which (if any) have confirmed positive. The Bobcats were one of the very few programs in the country yet to have a player test positive for COVID-19. A true testament to the players commitment to social distancing and maintaining CDC recommended guidlines both on and off the field. Some universities have lost entire position groups as COVID-19 has spread through practice fields and position meetings. Just this week the Sun Belt Conference announced it would be spending between $500,000-$1M on PCR tests that can process 96 samples in 30 minutes. Teams will be tested twice a week.
Texas State has scheduled the entire week 1 schedule around COVID tests and contingency plans should players miss games due to quarantine. Wednesday’s practice was halted for over two and a half hours for the entire team to take their last pre-game tests. In his post practice media availability yesterday, Coach Spav joked that the team “probably had 7 different variations of an offensive line out there today just to make sure that if one guy goes down with an injury or goes down due to contact tracing or tests positive for COVID, we have to have our answers so that we don’t look like we don’t know what we’re doing out there.”
The absence of defensive-back transfer Tory Spears will inhevitbaly be felt on “the backend”. True freshman Zion Childress will start at nickel-back. Coach Spavital applauded Childress for playing “at an extremely high level” he has been impressed with the former QB’s natural instincts on the defensive side of the ball.
Quarterback & San Antonio MacArthur alum Tyler Vitt will also be sidelined with his roommates. Vitt hasn’t practiced this week but when questioned Coach Spav alluded to a class scheduling conflict. Just this week Coach Spavital named Memphis transfer Brady McBride as saturdays’ starter. Vitt narrowly lost a QB competition that Spavital said was “fun” to watch. He went on to elaborate how, “Vitt is the more efficient passer in live scrimmages” however “McBride led 12 touchdown drives to Vitts’ five.” Had Coach Spav opted to go with Vitt, Texas State would be without its’ starting Quarterback on Saturday.
The Bobcats will also be without both their only healthy tight ends Seth Caillouet and Jackson Lanam. The on-field impact of losing the entire TE position is minuscule in comparison to the impact this virus could have on these young men. Their immediate and long-term health should be the only concern for fans, as we hope this quarantine is just a precaution. Just this morning Penn State released a study on Big 10 athletes showing that MRI scans revealed around 30 to 35 percent of those who tested positive appeared to have myocarditis, a type of inflammation of the heart muscle. While these athletes are young and in the prime of their lives, they still have their whole lives ahead of them. We should applaud the university and the program for prioritizing that over playing.
While we hope it is purely a contact tracing precaution, the quarantine will cost these Bobcats their ESPN debuts. Should any of their test confirm positive, the mandatory 24 day quarantine period would not only cost them their season opener, but also the Bobcats’ week 2 matchup against UTSA, which will air on ESPN2.