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What The Darrin Kirkland Jr. Transfer Means For Tennessee

Nothing good, dear reader. Nothing good.

Late Thursday night, Tennessee linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. announced his via Twitter his intentions to transfer. He has two seasons of eligibility left, and will be eligible to play immediately wherever he ends up as a graduate transfer. The move came as a shock to many.

Kirkland Jr. exploded onto the scene his freshman year, finishing fourth on the team in tackles and fourth in school history for a freshman with a total of 66. He was also named to the All-SEC Freshman Team. His sophomore and junior seasons were limited by injuries, but Kirkland Jr. was a surefire starter whenever he was healthy.

On the field, this leaves new head coach Jeremy Pruitt with even more questions on defense. Kirkland likely would have been a leader for this unit and might have even been in consideration for captaincy.

Now, Pruitt must find an answer to the question of who will line up next to Daniel Bitulli in the middle of the defense. Quar’te Sapp, Will Ignont, and Solon Page III are still around, while Dillon Bates is still waiting in the wing for a chance to prove himself as a contributor. Any of those four could rotate to middle linebacker. Pruitt has been very vocal that he wants linebackers that can play any of the linebacker positions, so that will help with the transition. JJ Peterson will also report to campus this summer, a prospect this coaching staff seems to be excited about.

If you’re interested in reading about the position group as a whole, I am plugging a preview I wrote on the linebackers in March right about….now.

Off the field, however, this transfer raises some questions. Is Kirkland transferring because of playing time promises, the new scheme, or the new coaching staff? None of those possibilities seem very likely, but if any of them wind up being true, it would be a shame that Pruitt and his staff couldn’t make it work.

Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that all of his friends are now gone. Only 10 of the other 29 recruits from his 2015 recruiting class are still with the program.

There’s also a chance he is transferring to a school with a better graduate program to pursue his Masters Degree. He was a Finance major at Tennessee.

Whatever his reasoning is, he’ll be able to go to whatever school he wants. Pruitt has stood by his previously stated position that he will not block any graduate from transferring to any particular school, regardless of if they are on future schedules or not.

Hopefully, he will choose somewhere that is not on any future schedules.

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