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Tennessee linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. expected to return in 2-3 weeks

Tennessee needs this guy back.

NCAA Football: Tennessee Volunteers football practice Calvin Mattheis-USA TODAY Sports

One of Tennessee’s standout players is set to return before spring practice comes to a close, head coach Jeremy Pruitt confirmed today. Darrin Kirkland Jr. missed all of last season after suffering a torn meniscus in training camp last year. After a minor procedure to clean some things up, Kirkland is close to returning to the practice field.

“Darrin had his knee cleaned up, so he’ll be back in probably 2-3 weeks,” Pruitt said. “He had done really well and progressed working in the offseason. Just a minor little clean up there. He’ll be ready to go. Might even finish up the last practices of spring.”

Kirkland is now a redshirt junior and is expected to be a big part of the linebacker rotation in the middle of Tennessee’s defense. The former SEC All-Freshman team member will be a welcomed veteran presence for the Vols as they transition to a 3-4 base look.

Daniel Bituli, Will Ignont and Quart’e Sapp will also be in the mix. We probably should mention four-star incoming freshman JJ Peterson in that conversation as well.