Per Jimmy Hyams of 99.1 The Sports Animal in Knoxville, both Darrin Kirkland Jr. and James Brown will retire from the Tennessee Volunteers football program.
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said TE James Brown and LB Darrin Kirkland have given up football. Brown will take medical hardship. Kirkland has graduated. Pruitt said recently on WNML that Kirkland likely would not return.— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) May 28, 2019
Brown, a redshirt sophomore, didn’t appear in any games during the 2018 season after taking the redshirt. Shoulder injuries have kept Brown off the field outside of the 2019 Orange and White game, where he caught a touchdown pass. A medical scholarship will take the place of his roster spot as part of the retirement deal.
Kirkland Jr., on the other hand, was an All-SEC Freshman Team selection after a standout 2015 season. An ankle injury cost him most of his sophomore year and then a torn meniscus prevented him from taking the field in 2017.
Jeremy Pruitt was able to convince Kirkland Jr. to return the Vols in 2018, where he started 11 games, recording 51 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, and a pick-six.
But Pruitt also mentioned back in April that Kirkland Jr. may not play in 2019.
When you include all of the previous injuries that he’s suffered throughout his career, it’s no surprise that Kirkland Jr. has made this decision.
It’s a disappointing end to a promising career, but the good news is that Kirkland graduated in December, so he has his college degree.
Here’s to wishing nothing but the best for these two kids in any and all future endeavors.