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Kirkland calls it quits in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 08: Darrin Kirkland Jr. #34 of the Tennessee Volunteers returns an interception for a touchdown during a game against the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers at Neyland Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennesee won the game 59-3. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)

DESTIN, Fla. — Tennessee linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. won’t play for the Volunteers as a fifth-year senior this fall.

Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt told reporters Tuesday at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings that both Kirkland and tight end James Brown have given up football because of injury issues.

Kirkland, who made 28 career starts, didn’t participate in spring practice because of knee problems.

He had 66 tackles as a true freshman in 2015 to rank fourth on the team. He was limited to eight games in 2016 and didn’t play at all in 2017 because of a knee injury.

Kirkland announced in May 2018 that he was transferring, but he changed his mind and ended up making 51 tackles while starting all 12 games for the Vols last fall.

Brown was at Tennessee for two seasons but never played in a game.

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