Death, taxes, and devastating injuries to the Vols.
It’s been a common theme during the Butch Jones era at Tennessee, and this season is no different.
The team’s best offensive player, wide receiver Jauan Jennings, was lost for the season during the first half of the opener against Georgia Tech after dislocating his wrist. Possibly its best defensive player, linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., had meniscus surgery during fall camp costing him the entire 2017 season.
Chance Hall was supposed to receive serious run on the offensive line. Instead, he has missed the entire season following knee surgery. Todd Kelly Jr. led the Vols in tackles in 2016, but the senior safety was done after two games with a knee injury.
Those are four key guys who could have made a difference for Tennessee.
They aren’t alone in the training room.
In all, at least 28 Vols have missed part or all the 2017 season – that number continues to rise.
Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin only played in four games, defensive back Cam Sutton missed half the season, and running back Alvin Kamara was out for two contests due to injury, including the loss at South Carolina which knocked the Vols out of the SEC East race.
All three are currently on NFL rosters.
Upheaval on the coaching staff hasn’t helped matters.
Strength and conditioning coach Dave Lawson left the program in the Spring of 2016. Butch Jones didn’t replace Lawson, instead letting his assistant Mike Szerszen run the show that season, with less than stellar results.
In January, he hired Rock Gullickson as the new strength and conditioning coach. Gullickson’s resume was solid, with decades under his belt in college and the NFL.
He hasn’t made a difference.
Quarterback Quinten Dormady played much of the first half of the season with an injured shoulder, before finally having surgery. Offensive linemen Brett Kendrick, Drew Richmond, Marcus Tatum, Jashon Robertson and K’Rojhn Calbert have all been on the shelf for varying periods of time. That’s not even counting Jack Jones, who has stopped playing football due to the abuse his body has been through.
Last weekend alone, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, wide receiver Marquez Callaway and kick returner Evan Berry were all knocked out of the game. Berry has been out for most of the season with an undisclosed injury, and now is officially done for 2017.
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