DESTIN, Fla. — Tennessee linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. spoke with Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt last week and could return to the team.
Kirkland, who has two years of eligibility remaining, revealed on Twitter last week that he intended to leave the Tennessee program.
It has been a tough past two seasons for Kirkland, who is likely becoming antsy about wanting to return to the field.
Pruitt suspected as much last Thursday night in Kingsport after hearing about Kirkland’s Twitter post.
Kirkland and Pruitt spoke Thursday night and again on Saturday with Kirkland’s parents present.
Pruitt’s defenses have an outstanding track record of producing NFL linebackers, so Kirkland would have certainly reconsidered after talking with Pruitt.
It was first reported by SEC Country on SiriusXM SEC radio on Monday morning that Kirkland may not be leaving Tennessee.
Pruitt and Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer will arrive at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin on Tuesday.
Pruitt will be asked about the status of Kirkland, who has been projected to start at middle linebacker next to Daniel Bituli despite missing spring drills.
Kirkland was a preseason All-SEC pick last year, but a knee injury in fall camp led to surgery and sidelined him for the entire season.
Former defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said Kirkland was the most valuable player on defense the summer leading into the 2017 season.
Kirkland underwent an arthroscopic surgical procedure this spring, but Kirkland is expected to be ready to compete at the start of fall camp.
Tennessee needs Kirkland’s speed and keen instincts in the linebacking corps to be at its best this season.