Darrin Kirkland transfer update: the star linebacker is no longer leaving Tennessee, per a report. Kirkland was set to be a graduate transfer with two years left to play. However, he has rethought his departure.
The 2017 season was a tough one for Kirkland. He missed the year due to a knee injury, from which he is still recovering. During the season, he lost his head coach Butch Jones.
Jones was fired at mid-season, ahead of a 4-8 finish for the Vols. The team failed to win an SEC game for the first time in program history.
After a prolonged coaching search, Jeremy Pruitt comes over from Alabama, where he served as defensive coordinator. It originally looked like he was set to lose one of his top veteran players.
Instead, Darrin Kirkland will stay with the Vols.
Over the long weekend, Kirkland and his family met with Pruitt to discuss his options. Rather than leave, he will now remain a Vol.
ESPN's Chris Low spoke to Pruitt about the news today. From his report:
Kirkland, who has been plagued by injuries throughout much of his time at Tennessee, announced on Twitter last Thursday that he planned to leave the program as a graduate transfer. But Pruitt told ESPN that he met with Kirkland and his parents over the weekend, and they decided it was best for Kirkland to stay at Tennessee, where he's expected to be a key cog in the Vols' defense if he can stay healthy.
"The injuries have been hard on him, but he wants to be here and we want him here," Pruitt told ESPN. "He can definitely help us."
Kirkland started the majority of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, recording 111 total tackles with Tennessee. He was a Freshman All-SEC selection, but injuries have been a major setback. Hopefully he can bounce back and have a big impact for Pruitt this season.