KNOXVILLE - Tennessee Volunteers defensive back and kick returner Evan Berry is out for the season with a knee injury, according to coach Butch Jones.
Berry is a junior and had a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown against South Carolina on Oct. 29. The touchdown marked the fourth kickoff return touchdown of Berry’s carrier, and tied Willie Gault for most in program history.
“I won’t get into specifics of the knee injury, but he’ll be out for the remainder of the season,” Jones said. “He’s going to be missed, not only from a return aspect of things, but also we thought he was playing very, very well for us on the back end of our defense.”
Berry averaged 32.9 yards per kickoff return through nine games this season. He also had 12 combined tackles this season.
Jones said at his biweekly news conference on Monday that freshman wide receiver Tyler Byrd, sophomore safety Micah Abernathy, sophomore running back John Kelly, freshman defensive back Marquell Osbourne could see action as a kick returner with Berry out.
“Evan has a tremendous skillset and feel for it,” Jones said. “We’ll put the best individual out there.”
Here's a bird's-eye view of the Evan Berry TD. Vols down 17-14 with just under 11 minutes in the 4th quarter pic.twitter.com/8UeDkzcupR— WBIR Sports (@WBIRSports) October 30, 2016
Berry started at free safety against Texas A&M on Oct. 8, and against South Carolina on Oct. 29.
Last season, Berry won the SEC special teams player of the year.
Jones said freshman safety Nigel Warrior is competing for a starting safety spot with Berry out.
"The game changes when he's back there at safety," Jones said of Warrior.
Warrior led the Vols with seven tackles during Saturday's 55-0 blowout win against Tennessee Tech. Two of Warrior's tackles were fourth-down stops.
Jones confirmed senior cornerback Cameron Sutton and redshirt junior running back Alvin Kamara would practice Monday.
“I don’t know if he’ll be game ready yet,” Jones said of Sutton. “I’ll know a little bit more when we meet on Wednesday.”
Sutton hasn’t played since fracturing his right ankle against Ohio on Sept. 17. Kamara missed the Tennessee Tech game with a knee injury.
Sophomore running back John Kelly had seven rushing attempts for 104 rushing yards, including a 73-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against Tennessee Tech. Kelly made his first career start with Kamara injured, and Jalen Hurd announcing his intentions to transfer from UT.
Jones said he expected Kamara to play Saturday against Kentucky, but he’d know “a little bit more on Wednesday.”
“There’s a possibility both (Sutton and Kamara) could play,” Jones said.
Tennessee hosts Kentucky at Neyland Stadium as part of the second of a three-game homestand for the Vols. Kickoff is set for noon ET and the game airs on the SEC Network.
The Vols lead the all-time series against the Wildcats with a 78-24-9 record.
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