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What the Brandon Kennedy injury means for Tennessee

Next man up.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at West Virginia Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

And just like that, the injury bug has descended back upon Knoxville.

After a spring filled with controversy, former Alabama center Brandon Kennedy was finally allowed to transfer within the Southeastern Conference. It took a rule change, but Kennedy eventually chose Tide rival Tennessee as his next home.

After one game, his season is over.

Kennedy suffered a knee injury during Tuesday’s practice, which will end his 2018 season. Jeremy Pruitt confirmed the news after practice today. Kennedy still has one season of eligibility remaining, but this is a big blow for a kid who was finally getting his shot in the SEC.

So where does Tennessee go from here? Jeremy Pruitt answered that question for us on Wednesday afternoon.

“The fact that we moved guys around during fall camp will help us,” Pruitt said. “This is why you have to do it. It creates growing pains on the offensive line because guys don’t play the same position. You take Jerome Carvin — a guy that got here in the spring — he’s already played left guard, right guard and right tackle. He’ll probably be the third team center and we’ll get him some reps there. But it’s what you have to do.”

Moving guys around and creating depth has been a theme since Pruitt has gotten here. You get the sense that each offensive lineman was at least asked to learn one more position on the line. That preparation could pay dividends, though the situation is unfortunate.

“The next guy up will be Ryan Johnson,” Pruitt said. “He’s played there. Riley Locklear, Jerome (Carvin) can play center, so we’ve repped four or five centers over the course of the spring and fall camp. We’ll see after today and tomorrow what the best combination is.”

Ryan Johnson is the easy answer, being that he was the first team center during the spring. The interesting part of this comes at guard, where Tennessee will have to start a new face. Johnson got the go at guard against West Virginia, but his move to center will open up another spot.

With Jahmir Johnson on the other side, guys like Jerome Carvin, Riley Locklear and K’Rojhn Calbert will get a look to fill the open guard spot. Luckily for the Vols, they really have two weeks to figure out the offensive line equation with ETSU and UTEP coming to town. That’s a solid two weeks of practice, along with two games to build up some chemistry between that starting five before the Florida Gators come to town.