KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior safety Todd Kelly Jr. was back on campus Friday with no serious injuries after slipping on an embankment Thursday and getting checked out at a local hospital, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
Kelly Jr. underwent surgery in Pensacola, Fla., last October to repair a knee injury that originated in fall camp before the 2016 season, and he remains on track to be cleared for full-speed work in June.
The former Knoxville Webb School standout led the Vols in tackles in 2016, but a knee injury lingered during the last offseason, and that limited Kelly to just two games last season.
Kelly’s injury was diagnosed shortly before Tennessee’s game at Florida, catching many by surprised and leaving the Vols ill-prepared for a late-game situation that led to the Gators winning on the final play when a receiver got behind safety Micah Abernathy for a touchdown.
Tennessee struggled to limit big plays without Kelly on the field, as he ranked as the most sure-handed and best open-field tackler on the team.
Kelly’s return will be key in the secondary with Tennessee losing three senior defensive backs to graduation, along with junior nickelback Rashaan Gaulden, who has declared his intention to forgo his senior season of eligibility.