KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior receiver Josh Smith could return sooner than expected from a collarbone injury.
A source with knowledge of Smith’s injury said that a CT scan revealed the injury was pre-existing, and the recovery time could be faster than the typical 6-8 weeks.
Smith, a former Christian Academy of Knoxville standout, suffered the injury in Sunday’s practice when he landed awkwardly.
Coach Butch Jones said earlier on Monday that “we don’t have any timetable, any time set for a return.”
The No. 25-ranked Vols open the season at 8 p.m. on Sept. 4 against Georgia Tech in Atlanta in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Tennessee will have new quarterbacks under center after 3-year starter Josh Dobbs moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coaches have said junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano have impressed, but they will be working with a receiving corps that largely young and unproven after junior Jauan Jennings.
Jones has said sophomores Marquez Callaway and Brandon Johnson have impressed on the perimeter, while sophomore Tyler Byrd is starting to elevate his play in the slot.
“Tyler Byrd is starting to come on now, he’s playing with more confidence,” Jones said. “We’re going to play Jordan Murphy as a true freshman, obviously Josh Palmer as well, Latrell Williams has done some good things.
“We will miss the experience at the beginning with Josh, but we have some individuals that are very talented.”
Offensive coordinator Larry Scott has also mentioned the possibility of playing tight ends and running backs in the slot, depending on the matchups and how players perform.
Tennessee lost true freshman slot WR Jacquez Jones to a season-ending knee injury earlier in fall camp.
The Vols area also down two offensive tackles: Chance Hall and K’Rojhn Calbert have both undergone season-ending knee surgeries.