Tennessee Vols linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr has dealt with his fair share of injuries during his time in Knoxville.
Now, as a result of those injuries, Kirkland’s college football career might be over.
WMNL’s Jimmy Hyams reported this week that Kirkland is undergoing treatment in Florida with Dr James Andrews (who is probably the most famous ligament doctor in the world).
Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt told WMNL that it’s possible Kirkland might not play in 2019 and will instead focus on getting ready for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Pruitt said Kirkland might need more than seven or eight months of rehab.
Kirkland arrived at Tennessee in 2015 and immediately became a major contributor for the Vols, totaling 66 tackles in 13 games as a true freshman.
The Indiana native, who nearly transferred out of UT prior to last season, played in only eight games as sophomore in 2016. Kirkland then missed the entire 2017 season, before returning last year to accumulate 51 tackles in 12 games.
Kirkland, a former four-star recruit, is an incredibly bright football player who knows the linebacker position as well as anyone in the SEC. If he can finally he get healthy, he could definitely make an impact in the NFL.
But so far, Kirkland hasn’t been able to prove he’s capable of staying healthy for an extended period of time. As a result, it could be tough for a NFL team to decide he’s worth taking a risk on.
I certainly think Kirkland will have opportunities in the NFL, but I think it’s a stretch to assume he will be drafted in 2020.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports