September 01, 2017

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr.'s knee injury will prevent him from playing at all this season, leaving the 25th-ranked Volunteers without one of their projected top defenders.

Vols coach Butch Jones announced the severity of Kirkland's injury Friday. Jones said Wednesday that Kirkland had undergone meniscus surgery earlier that day but said at the time there wasn't yet a timetable for the junior's potential return.

Jones said that ''we had a positive outlook that it could be three to four to five weeks, but unfortunately that's not the news that came about.''

Kirkland made 45 tackles last season despite missing five games with a high ankle sprain.

Colton Jumper will take over Kirkland's spot at Mike linebacker Monday when Tennessee opens the season against Georgia Tech at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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