KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Butch Jones says that injured wide receiver Jauan Jennings is out “indefinitely.”
Jones didn’t specify the nature of Jennings’ injury, which kept the junior from playing in the second half of the 25th-ranked Volunteers’ 42-41 double-overtime victory over Georgia Tech on Monday. The coach also offered no timetable for when Jennings might be able to return.
Jennings finished the 2016 season with 40 receptions for 580 yards and seven touchdowns , including the go-ahead score in a victory over Florida and a Hail Mary reception to beat Georgia . He caught three passes for 17 yards Monday before his injury.
He now becomes Tennessee’s third projected starter to have a significant injury already this season. Tennessee lost offensive tackle Chance Hall and linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. to season-ending knee injuries during the preseason.
Jennings’ injury means Tennessee will be relying heavily on sophomore Marquez Callaway to build on his breakthrough performance against Georgia Tech. After catching just one pass last season, Callaway had four receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia Tech to help the Vols erase a 14-point, second-half deficit.
All of Callaway’s catches came after Jennings’ injury.
“We really needed a spark to happen,” Callaway said. “When Jennings got hurt, he was in the locker room waiting for us and he was telling us, ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m going to be fine. Y’all go out. We still have another half to play.’”
Tennessee also will need big contributions from younger receivers such as sophomores Tyler Byrd and redshirt freshman Latrell Williams and true freshman Josh Palmer. Tennessee had a handful of dropped passes in the first half of the Georgia Tech game before mounting its second-half comeback, but quarterback Quinten Dormady says he believes this group can succeed in Jennings’ absence.
“Obviously you saw some of what Callaway can do Monday night,” Dormady said. “And then Josh Palmer, he’s going to have to step up and show what he can do. He’s fully capable of it. All the young guys are. I’m very confident in the receiving corps that we have right now.”
Jones also said defensive tackle Kendal Vickers and safety/kick returner Evan Berry are questionable for the Vols’ home opener Saturday with Football Championship Subdivision program Indiana State (0-1) after both got hurt against Georgia Tech. Wide receiver Josh Smith and defensive tackle Shy Tuttle also are questionable for Saturday after neither played against Georgia Tech.
The Vols did get some good news Wednesday.
Jones said that offensive tackle Drew Richmond would be available Saturday. Richmond was suspended for the Georgia Tech game due to a violation of team rules.