G-Gun in UT’s injury cabinet
Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 4:30 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee junior wide receiver Gerald Jones is expected to miss three to six weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain during the Volunteers’ most recent scrimmage.
The Vols’ most experienced returning receiver hobbled off the field after catching a 14-yard pass from Nick Stephens during Saturday’s scrimmage and didn’t return.
Coach Lane Kiffin said the team was still evaluating his injury. If he returned in three weeks, he’d be available first against Florida Sept. 19.
“That’s obviously a downer for us, but we also know the guys that step in are going to be just fine,” quarterback Jonathan Crompton said.
Jones’ injury is more bad news for an already depleted wide receiver corps. Fellow junior Denarius Moore is expected to be sidelined at least until the Florida game as he recovers from foot surgery, and senior Austin Rogers is out for the season to recover from knee surgery.
That leaves only a few scholarship receivers left. Kiffin opted to move freshman and former high school receiver Rod Wilks from safety to bolster the depth.
“There’s no free agency to go to or trades, so we went to Rod Wilks,” Kiffin said. “Obviously that’s hard to do, bring a guy over this late, but it does give us another body over there, somebody who’s played receiver in the past.”
Wilks said he’s going to spend extra time trying to learn the playbook and routes to be ready for when Tennessee opens Sept. 5 against Western Kentucky. He said he did not yet know if the move would be permanent.
“I feel great about it,” he said. “It’s a situation to help out the team, and I’m willing to do that.”
Jones was expected to be among the starters. He was the top returner after catching 30 passes for 323 yards last season, but had been somewhat limited during fall practice as he recovered from surgery on his left wrist, which has been in a cast.
Junior Brandon Warren, senior Quintin Hancock and freshmen Nu’Keese Richardson and Henry County product Marsalis Teague must now fill his spot. Freshman Zach Rogers, Austin Rogers’ younger brother, will also be available to play.
“They’re going to have to play for us, and they’re going to have to do things right and be consistent because there’s nowhere else to go,” Kiffin said of the freshmen.
Center Josh McNeil also missed Monday’s practice because he was undergoing tests on his surgically repaired knee. Kiffin said the senior landed on it in practice last week and had been bothered by it ever since.
Kiffin said McNeil’s injury hasn’t caused him to make a decision as to whether McNeil or senior Cody Sullins would start at center.
“We’ll see what the results say when they come back, and hopefully we’ll have news and he’ll be able to play for us,” he said.