Vols Lose Offensive Lineman to Injury for 2 Weeks

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    Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

    The Vols have been dealt another blow to their offensive line. But this time, the injury isn’t nearly as bad as the previous one.

    Jeremy Pruitt confirmed on Wednesday during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference that sophomore guard Riley Locklear suffered a knee injury during the Georgia game. But unlike center Brandon Kennedy who suffered a season-ending ACL injury, Locklear’s injury is less severe.

    “It’s actually good news for Riley,” Pruitt said on Wednesday. “When he left the game, we were concerned that he possibly could have an ACL (tear), but he’s just got a very small meniscus tear and had surgery. He’ll probably be out at least 10 to 15 days, and then he’ll be back ready to go.”

    Locklear exited Saturday’s contest against No. 2 Georgia in the second quarter and never returned. Coaches initially feared the second-year offensive linemen had the same injury as Kennedy, the grad transfer from Alabama who started at center for the Vols against West Virginia but tore his ACL in practice the following week.

    But luckily for Locklear and for the Vols, his injury is far less significant.

    The sophomore guard hasn’t started a game this season, but he’s appeared in four of Tennessee’s five games. After not playing against West Virginia, he came off the bench and saw time against ETSU, UTEP, Florida, and Georgia. He’s played mostly left guard and filled in for Jahmir Johnson there, but he’s also served as the backup center to Ryan Johnson after Kennedy’s injury. Freshman Jerome Carvin, the starter at right guard, has been getting reps at center in practice this week to potentially serve as a backup while Locklear is out.

    Because he’s only played in four games so far, Locklear could still redshirt this season if he suffers any setbacks in his recovery from surgery.

    As a freshman last season, Locklear appeared in four games and made two starts down the stretch for the Vols. He started at right guard against LSU and Vanderbilt to end the Vols’ 2017 season last year. He hails from Huntington, West Virginia and was a borderline three-star/four-star lineman coming out of high school.

    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.