KNOXVILLE — Tennessee got the news it had been dreading on Sunday evening.
A little more than 24 hours after Justin Hunter, the Volunteers' star receiver, landed awkwardly on his left leg while making a first-down catch in UT's loss at 15th-ranked Florida on Saturday, the Vols announced that the sophomore will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Hunter, who entered the game with 302 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 16 catches, landed awkwardly in the first quarter and left the field on crutches. He will undergo surgery and is expected back for spring practice.
"First of all you hate it for the kid," UT coach Derek Dooley said after the game. "It just makes you sick when you see it, because you know probably what happened. Then you hate it for the team.
"It’s an energy-zapper, but you’ve to turn around and say ‘hey, we’ve got four quarters of football to play, we don’t have time to sulk.'"
The Vols (2-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) do have some time to adjust and figure out how to handle the potential long-term loss of their top playmaker. UT has a bye week before a game against a Buffalo team that should present little difficulty.
More on how the Vols will move forward without one of their top playmakers in Monday's Times Free Press, along with the weekly position-by-position "Stock Exchange."
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...