Vol center McNeil to go under knife
Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 3:42 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee center Josh McNeil will undergo knee surgery and miss some playing time, head coach Lane Kiffin said on Tuesday.
The senior will have his already surgically repair knee scoped this morning to determine if there is further damage to it.
“That’s anywhere from three weeks to his career being done,” Kiffin said. “I don’t know any more than that right now, except that he won’t be with us for a while.”
That means senior center Cody Sullins will start for the Vols’ Sept. 5 opener against Western Kentucky.
McNeil has started 35 of his 38 games as a Volunteer, but coaches told the 6-foot-4 Collins, Miss., native he would have to compete for the starting job like everyone else on the team.
McNeil has shared practice time with the first-team offense with Sullins.
Kiffin hadn’t settled between the two, even after watching them through three scrimmages this month.
The coach has liked what he’s seen from Sullins but knows the former walk-on from Cottontown is light on experience after having played in only five games in his career — mostly in mop-up duty.
“He’s never really played, so there’s always the fear of that … but what he’s done for us he’s done really well, so we’ll go with him and see how far he can take us,” Kiffin said.
Offensive lineman Vladimir Richard said the team is comfortable with Sullins as its starting center.
“(Last) Saturday was the best scrimmage Sully’s ever had,” Richard said of the situation. “Sully really did his thing and had all the calls right and he just got everyone where they were supposed to be, and he just went in there with straight confidence.”