247 Sports reported this morning that Tennessee will be without linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. for the remainder of the 2017 season. The junior linebacker suffered a torn meniscus last Friday.
What was initially reported as a six week absence is now being reported as a season-ender. Needless to say, this is a massive blow to the Tennessee defense. There was at least some hope that Kirkland would still be able to compete in the 2nd half of the season.
After hurting his knee in a non-contact injury during last Friday's practice, Kirkland faced two options, according to a source: He could let the injury heal and return after around a six-week time frame, or undergo surgery and face missing the entire season.
Kirkland opted for the surgery, which occurred on Wednesday morning.
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones confirmed the news today. “It wasn’t the news we wanted to hear. He (Kirkland) will be out for the entire season.”
The Volunteers will turn to senior linebacker Colton Jumper to start in his place. As Bob Shoop detailed yesterday, Tennessee expects to play six or seven linebackers. They’re in a much better place depth wise than last year, but this is still a huge blow.