Football

Report: Tennessee coach confirms key linebacker has decided against transferring

Tennessee linebacker Darrin Kirkland (34) turned in an All-SEC freshman performance in 2015 and started six of eight games as a sophomore. Plagued by injuries, including an ACL tear that cost him all of last season, Kirkland considered becoming a graduate transfer, but decided against it after meeting with head coach Jeremy Pruitt, according to a report.
Tennessee linebacker Darrin Kirkland (34) turned in an All-SEC freshman performance in 2015 and started six of eight games as a sophomore. Plagued by injuries, including an ACL tear that cost him all of last season, Kirkland considered becoming a graduate transfer, but decided against it after meeting with head coach Jeremy Pruitt, according to a report. AP Photo

Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt picked up a key returning player over the weekend after convincing senior linebacker Darrin Kirkland to return to the Volunteers.

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Darrin Kirkland Tennessee Athletics

Darrin Kirkland, a 6-foot-1, 238-pound linebacker out of Indianapolis, announced on Twitter last week that he intended to become a graduate transfer. But Pruitt confirmed to ESPN's Chris Low on Tuesday that he had met with Kirkland and his parents over the weekend and that the former All-Southeastern Conference freshman had since decided to stay on.

"The injuries have been hard on him, but he wants to be here and we want him here," Pruitt told Low. "He can definitely help us."

Kirkland tore his ACL and missed all of last season and had been plagued by other injuries in his career, but when healthy, he is a major contributor. He started 10 of 13 games as a freshman and six of eight games as a sophomore.

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