College football players across the country have begun the process of returning to campus to prepare for the 2020 season during a time when the country is seeing a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases -- the very same virus that sent the players and their fellow classmates home during the winter and spring months. So, it's not surprising that we would see a player openly wonder about what the future truly holds, and on Wednesday, it was Illinois linebacker Milo Eifler voicing his concerns on Twitter.
"I understand that people want to see us play this season but in reality how can a team full of 100+ student athletes fully function during a pandemic," Eifler wrote. "Trust, my teammates and I want to play. But schools around the country are showing blatant disregard for student athletes."
Eifler's concerns were echoed by both his current teammates and former Illini players. Shortly after the tweet, a Zoom meeting was held with the media, but only after Eifler discussed his concerns with Illinois coach Lovie Smith and athletic director Josh Whitman. Both were "caught off guard" by Eifler's comments, according to an Illinois spokesperson.
During his online meeting with media, Eifler was asked if he would feel comfortable playing a football game right now.
"Do we have a vaccine?" Eifler asked in response. "I don't know. The football player in me wants to put on pads right now. Just leaving the house to go to the grocery store, I know everyone has been a little bit scared about 'What if I go eat with my friend on Friday in an outdoor-seated restaurant?' You want to do those things, but in the back of your head, you're like, 'Dang, I don't know. Is it right?'
"Yeah, we want to come back and want to play, but we just want to make sure our health and our safety is the priority. ... It's hard when you're taking this process day by day. We got through today, but are we going to get through tomorrow? Sure, I want to go back to workouts, but am I going to be good Friday?"
Eifler's concerns are legitimate. CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd recently talked to Dr. Sheldon Jacobson, a computer science professor at Illinois, who shared some startling projections about what could happen this fall.
Based on Jacobson's research, with roughly 13,000 players competing in FBS this season, he expects a 30-50% infection rate, and we could see between three and seven deaths among those infected.
"A few of them could end up in the hospital, and you'll have a small number who could die," Jacobson told CBS Sports. "I don't want to sugar coat it for you. I just want to give you the facts. ... If everybody comes together under normal circumstances, we'll probably see that kind of outcome."