KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee sophomore Kahlil McKenzie indicated on his Twitter account that his injury is season ending.
— Kahlil McKenzie Jr. (@KM1_Era) October 17, 2016
McKenzie made his first career start against Alabama, but with six minutes left in the first quarter, he suffered an upper-body injury while trying to make an open-field tackle.
McKenzie didn’t catch or hit Tide receiver ArDarius Stewart on the play, appearing to injure himself simply by falling hard on the turf and rolling awkwardly.
As SEC Country first reported, the injury proved to be the sort that could lead him to miss an extended amount of time.
Tennessee junior defensive tackle Kendal Vickers also suffered an undisclosed injury against Alabama, though his is not necessarily expected to be season ending.
Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop declined to address the team’s injury situation at a Monday appearance at the Knoxville Quarterback Club.
Shoop did reveal that sophomore defensive ends Quay Picou (6-1, 277) and Kyle Phillips (6-4, 259) were pressed into action at defensive tackle against the Crimson Tide despite not having any reps there during the week leading up to the game.
Shoop also said he had a long talk with defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo — a physical 6-6, 284-pounder — about his importance to the team the rest of the season.
Kongbo has taken some snaps at defensive tackle in Tennessee’s three-down package and now could see more work there as the position has thinned.
Junior college transfer Alexis Johnson was set to debut at defensive tackle last Saturday, but he suffered an injury in Wednesday’s practice.
Sophomore Shy Tuttle is the only experienced scholarship player remaining at defensive tackle.
McKenzie was credited with 12 tackles and half of a tackle-for-loss in the seven games he played.