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Surprise! Kirkland Jr. To Stay With Volunteers

Last week, I wrote a sad article about how Darrin Kirkland Jr. was electing to leave the Tennessee football team, but just ignore it now.

Multiple outlets are now reporting that Kirkland Jr. has elected to stay with the program after a meeting with head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his parents.

The news, confirmed by Pruitt, is welcome after many were left scratching their heads. What was his reasoning? How would the defense handle the loss of a former All-SEC Freshman? Was it an issue with someone on the staff? Maybe it had something to do with where he wanted to pursue his graduate degree?

None of that matters now. Kirkland Jr. is coming back, and most Tennessee fans will be happy to hear it.

The linebacker has had a career plagued by injuries. However, when he is healthy, Kirkland Jr. is a force from the Mike linebacker position. He has started 16 games thus far in his career, totaling 111 tackles along the way. It will be interesting to see if he can make the transition to the new defensive base that Pruitt and his staff have brought to Knoxville.

Kirkland Jr. and Daniel Bitulli are projected to start in the middle of the defense this coming season. If you want to check out a preview of the Tennessee linebackers position group going into the coming season, check it out here.

This turn of events is a welcome one.

After years of seeing important, quality players transferring away from the program (Jalen Hurd, Preston Williams, Nathan Peterman, etc.), it is refreshing to see that there’s finally a head coach here that can talk good players into staying. Hopefully, going forward, Pruitt will find a way to just avoid these types of scares entirely.

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