The Return of Two Captains Spark the Vols

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    For the last two weeks, Joshua Dobbs has been Tennessee’s only healthy captain. When the Vols went out to meet their opponent at midfield for the pre-game coin toss, Dobbs has been the only one fully padded up and ready to play the game that day

    On Saturday, however, he got two of his fellow captains back. And those two returned in a big way.

    Running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Cam Sutton both suited up and played significant snaps for the Vols in their 49-36 victory over Kentucky on Saturday. Kamara carried the ball 10 times and ripped off 128 yards, scoring twice as well. He didn’t appear to be lacking any of the explosion he had just a month ago against Texas A&M, and he had the second-most rushing yards for the Vols behind Josh Dobbs’ 147 yards. Sutton came in and broke up two passes to go along with three tackles. Sutton’s second pass breakup gave him 26 for his career, and that was enough to give him the school’s all-time mark for pass breakups in a career. Neither Kamara nor Sutton played on special teams, however.

    Alvin Kamara was hurt during the Alabama game on October 22nd and hasn’t played for the Vols since. Cam Sutton had missed even more time, and there was once fear that he may miss the rest of the season. Sutton was injured on a punt return against Ohio on September 17th and hadn’t been on the field since then. In fact, Sutton wasn’t even supposed to be on the field against Kentucky either.

    “It’s been a little bit of a longer process for Cam, and really we had kind of circled the Missouri game as his return date,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said after the game, “so he’s actually a week ahead of where we scheduled.

    “We live in a SportsCenter society. When we all go home tonight, we’re going to turn SportsCenter on and all we see are the highlights. What we don’t see is him in the training room at 7 a.m. or him in the training room eight, nine, ten times a day to get himself in order to play. To me, I love those two individuals, and like Alvin said, he goes, ‘Coach, it was like a long time coming.’ I give them a lot of credit.”

    For most of this season, the Vols have been without all four of their captaisn. Josh Dobbs has been the only captain that’s been healthy all year. Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin suffered a season-ending injury and has been out since September 24th against Florida, Sutton was out from September 17th till this game, and Kamara was out for the last two weeks until this Saturday.

    But Tennessee got two of their captains back this weekend, and it helped them on both sides of the ball.

    “I told our officials before the game, I said, ‘I’m proud to tell you that today when we walk out for the coin toss, three out of four of our captains will be in helmets, shoulder pads and uniforms,’ whereas we haven’t had that luxury,” Jones stated. “These individuals could have easily sat out and said ‘I’m done’ and started getting ready for the NFL, but instead, they wanted to be a part of this football team and help us win, and to me, that speaks volumes about their character and what this football program means to them.

    “They’re selfless individuals who put the team first and really wanted to play. They were determined and they willed themselves to getting back healthy. I thought that really sparked our football team.”

    Dobbs, the one captain who’s been healthy all year, also had a strong showing on Saturday. The senior quarterback completed 11 of his 17 passes for 223 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He added 147 rushing yards and two scores on the ground as well.

    Tennessee has been beat up all season. And they’ve missed some of their biggest contributors for large chunks of time as well. But on Saturday, the Vols got two of their biggest play-makers back, and it showed.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.