The Evander Wells football experiment is over before it really even started.
The former Tennessee track star who recently joined the Vols as a wide receiver had his transition to the gridiron cut short when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Sunday after just five practices.
Out of eligibility as a sprinter, Wells tried to extend his athletic career at UT by walking on to the football team and giving the Vols a speedy threat to use in the passing game or on special teams. His best shot at contributing this season likely was as a kickoff returner, and he had earned some early praise from the coaching staff for knocking off the rust that came from not playing the game since high school.
“He tore his ACL, and it’s too bad,” UT coach Derek Dooley said after practice on Monday. “He was only out here a few days.
“He was fast, we might have had some fly-sweeps and bubble screens he could run.”
That much was obvious during his productive track career with the Vols, which included a fourth-place finish in the 200-meter dash at the NCAA championships in June.
Later that month, he placed fourth in the 200 and seventh in the 100 at the USA Track and Field Championships.
Dooley indicated the ligament was damaged when Wells “just planted,” giving the Vols three major injuries during the first week of practice.
The loss of Wells won’t likely be noticed given his uncertain role, but Achilles injuries for likely starters Marlon Walls and Ben Martin on the defensive line have made the health of the Vols the biggest issue so far in fall camp.
Walls and Martin could miss the entire season.