The Vols are barely a week away from opening their 2017 season against Georgia Tech. Now is not the time coaches want to hear injury news, especially if it’s about a pivotal and important player on the team.
But unfortunately for Tennessee, that’s exactly what they’re dealing with.
According to a report from 247Sports, Tennessee linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. suffered a knee injury during the Vols’ practice on Friday. No estimated timetable for his recovery has been released yet, nor has specifics on the severity of the injury. Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is scheduled to speak with the media on Wednesday, however, so there likely will be an update then.
After being selected to the All-SEC Freshman team in 2015, Kirkland has dealt with a rash of injuries. As a sophomore last season, Kirkland missed five total games due to injury and only started six of the eight games he played in as he was eased back into action. Even with that missed time, however, Kirkland still managed to total 45 tackles, five tackles for loss, and a sack.
And now comes this injury news for the junior.
Behind Kirkland on the depth chart is former walk-on Colton Jumper. If Kirkland misses even just a few games, Jumper is the most likely to fill in for him. Coaches have spoken highly of freshman Will Ignont at the position as well, so there is a chance he would see time if Kirkland is out for an extended period too.