Vols' Jones Now Battling Kendrick Concussion Controversy

OT Reportedly Injured In First Half, Stayed In Game Vs UK

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - by Larry Fleming
Tennessee football coach Butch Jones was fighting another controversy on Tuesday. Reports surfaced that offensive lineman Brett Kendrick suffered a concussion in the first half of the Kentucky game and continued to play until the final 22 seconds of the game.
Tennessee football coach Butch Jones was fighting another controversy on Tuesday. Reports surfaced that offensive lineman Brett Kendrick suffered a concussion in the first half of the Kentucky game and continued to play until the final 22 seconds of the game.

Tennessee football, mired in controversy over how much longer will Butch Jones coach the team, was fighting a new firestorm Wednesday.

Senior offensive lineman Brett Kendrick reportedly played the second half against Kentucky with a concussion and Jones and athletic director John Currie quickly addressed the situation.

“I can tell you this: We would never, ever knowingly put a student-athlete in harm’s way,” Jones said on the SEC coaches’ teleconference.

“I absolutely have no say in these decisions.”

Currie released a similar statement:

The health and safety of our student-athletes is our number one responsibility. Our sports medicine staff and team medical personnel have full autonomy and unquestioned authority during all team activities, including the ability to remove a player from competition and ‘return to play’ decisions.

“At all football games, the Southeastern Conference has a trained independent medical observer present who also has full authority to stop play and remove a student-athlete from competition for assessment and/or treatment.

“We have a constant and consistently communicated expectation that all coaches, staff and student-athletes remain attentive to ensure that any potential injuries are appropriately addressed – with the full intentions that student-athlete safety is never compromised.”

Kendrick, a 6-foot-6, 318-pound starting right tackle, reportedly suffered a head injury in the first half of the Vols’ 29-26 loss at Kentucky on Saturday. Kendrick remained in the lineup until the final moments of Tennessee’s last-minute drive. He came off the field in the last 22 seconds and vomited on the sideline.

Video shows Kendrick giving up a sack on quarterback Jarrett Guarantano in the 28- to 22-second range on the game clock in a game televised by SEC Network.

Kendrick, who didn’t speak with reporters after Saturday’s game and was not available for interviews on Monday or Tuesday, has told people around him he doesn’t remember playing the second half against Kentucky.

The Read Optional, primarily a pro football website and Podcast Network but also dives into college football, says it received a text pertaining to Kendrick.

“He is resting in a dark room. He doesn’t remember anything about the second half of the game,” the text reads. “They left him in (the game) until the last 22 seconds and only pulled him out because he finally threw up on the sideline.”

Jones, under close scrutiny for this year’s disappointing 3-5 overall record and an exasperating 0-5 in the SEC, now finds himself in even more hot water with the Kendrick situation.

In fairness, pointing the finger singularly at Jones might not be right thing to do. Questions to the contrary can certainly be asked.

Did the medical personnel overlook Kendrick’s condition? Did Kendrick, not wanting to come out of the game, hide his condition until it was not possible to do so?

Jones also said Wednesday that Kendrick would not be available for the Vols’ homecoming game against Southern Miss game. He was asked if 6-5, 295-pound freshman Riley Locklear, who is from Huntington, West Virginia and being redshirted, would be available play against the Golden Eagles.

“I’ve been very encouraged by his growth,” Jones said. “He will be ready to go Saturday night.”

Freshman Trey Smith, a No. 1 offensive line prospect the Vols signed in 2017, has been the Vols’ best-performing star this year. He has started every game and is the only offensive lineman to do so.

Speaking of redshirts, Jones said that if Guarantano had to leave Saturday’s game even for one play because he lost his helmet, the coach said he would send in freshman Will McBride, the only other scholarship signal caller on the roster. McBride, like Locklear, hasn’t played a snap this season.

Antoine Davis Leaves VFL Position

Former Vol All-American offensive lineman Antoine Davis has resigned as the athletic departments’ Vol For Life coordinator after six years in the position.

Davis has submitted a letter of resignation with a two-week notice.

There were conflicting reports on reasons for Davis’ departure. Some say Davis is seeking other opportunities. Some say he was not allowed to travel with the football team and citing a hostile work environment.

Davis won the Jacobs Trophy as the SEC’s best offensive lineman, earned All-America honors as a senior in 1990 and spent seven years in the NFL with the Eagles and Atlanta Falcons from 1991-97. He started 87 of 97 games as an offensive tackle.

Davis and teammate Charles McRae were back-to-back first-round picks in the 1991 draft, Davis going to Philadelphia as the No. 8 pick and McRae to Tampa Bay as the No. 7 selection. Davis played his final two NFL seasons with the Falcons.

The two former teammates helped the Vols win two SEC titles and three bowl games.

Notes: The Vols are 22-2 against current teams in Conference USA. The last C-USA team played was North Texas – that was also a homecoming game in 2015 – Tennessee won 24-0. …  The Vols are 71-19-3 all-time on homecoming and 3-1 under Jones. UT has won the three homecoming games handily – North Texas, UT-Chattanooga 45-10 (2014) and Tennessee Tech 55-0 (2016). … UT has beaten 11 straight non-conference game since a 31-24 double-overtime loss to Oklahoma in 2015. Tennessee is 3-0 versus outside-the-SEC opponents this season, beating Georgia Tech, Indiana State and UMass. … In the win streak, the Vols have averaged 37.4 points and held the foes to 14.3 points. … Punter Trevor Daniel, who averages 47-yards per kick (that ranks fourth in the SEC and fourth nationally), is one of 78 finalists for the Ray Guy Award, given to the country’s top collegiate punter each year. Daniel has the Vol season record with a 45.6-yard average and ranks second among active NCAA punters, regardless of division.

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)





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