Starting center to wear No. 67

Updated: October 2, 2003, 9:32 PM ET
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee center Scott Wells will honor backup Chuck Prugh by wearing his jersey Saturday while Prugh continues to battle an illness.

Every player also will wear Prugh's No. 67 on the back of their helmets for the seventh-ranked Volunteers' game at Auburn, coach Phillip Fulmer said after practice Thursday.

"That's only in honor of him. We're expecting good things to come out of his recovery," Fulmer said.

Prugh has been in intensive care at University of Tennessee Medical Center since Sept. 27 with an illness doctors believe could be caused by a virus. He remained in critical condition Thursday, hospital officials said.

Wells was listed on the roster as No. 67 instead of his usual No. 64, a change he made this week.

"It's just a great gesture on his part, something he wanted to do. He and Chuck are best friends as that whole offensive line group are really close," Fulmer said. "We're still prayerful he's going to continue to make progress. I think Chuck will appreciate that."

Prugh has been using a ventilator to help him breathe but has been able to communicate with visitors by winking, smiling and moving his arms, teammate Jason Respert, who has visited him at the hospital, told The Tennessean.

Prugh, a senior, transferred from Carson-Newman as a walk-on in 2000. He was awarded a scholarship this fall and has routinely spelled Wells during games.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press