KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee center Brandon Kennedy will miss the remainder of the season after injuring his anterior cruciate ligament in practice.
Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt said Wednesday night that the Alabama graduate transfer hurt his knee during Tuesday’s practice.
“He seems to be in good spirits,” Pruitt said. “And I know our staff and our players, everybody really has (gained) respect for Brandon since he’s been here and how he worked and went about his business.”
Ryan Johnson will likely take over as the starting center Saturday when the Vols host Football Championship Subdivision program East Tennessee State . Pruitt mentioned that Riley Locklear and Jerome Carvin also have worked out at center.
Johnson had been Tennessee’s first-team right guard last week in a season-opening 40-14 loss to No. 14 West Virginia.
“The next guy will be Ryan Johnson,” Pruitt said. “Ryan’s played there. Riley Locklear and Jerome can play center. We’ve repped four or five centers over the course of spring and summer. You have to do that in fall camp. We’ll shuffle some guys around and see after today and tomorrow’s practice what’s the best combination.”
Tennessee worked out many of its offensive linemen at multiple positions during preseason camp . Pruitt believes that will give the Vols the versatility needed to withstand injuries.
“You’ve always got to have guys that can move around a little bit,” Pruitt said. “For instance, if you’ve got 10 offensive linemen, so there’s your two-deep, well maybe your backup center on the depth chart might be your 10th-best offensive lineman. If you lose your center, do you play your sixth guy or your 10th guy. It makes sense to play your sixth-best guy. To do things like that, you’ve got to be able to move guys around.”
Kennedy had appeared in three games as a reserve for Alabama last year before suffering a season-ending foot injury. He arrived at Tennessee this summer with two seasons of eligibility remaining and made his first career start last week against West Virginia.
“It’s very unfortunate for him, but like I told him, he’s got another year,” Pruitt said. “He’s been through this before. He gets an opportunity to get another degree.”
NOTE: Although JJ Peterson started practicing with the Vols this week after getting approval from the NCAA Clearinghouse, Pruitt says the freshman linebacker is a long way from being able to contribute in a game. Peterson was the top-rated prospect in Tennessee’s 2018 recruiting class. “JJ’s out of shape,” Pruitt said. “He didn’t go through summer conditioning. He didn’t go through fall camp, so he’s got a long way to go physically before he’ll be able to play.”