Anything Tennessee got after one ruptured Achilles tendon for Ben Martin was going to be a bonus.
Now the Vols defensive end will have to recover from a second surgery for the same injury before he can make another run at his delayed senior season.
Lost for the year after going down almost as soon as camp opened last fall with the damage to his Achilles, Martin’s path to recovery hit another major hurdle when he suffered the same injury in his other leg in a workout Monday morning. Martin is scheduled to have surgery later this week in an effort to return in time for the fall, but an exact timeline for him remains unclear at this point.
“Thanks for the support (people),” Martin posted on Twitter. “I needed it but I know God has a plan for me and I'm not hanging my head.
“I'm ready for this long road.”
Martin has already been down it once now, and until reaching another roadblock he seemed to be progressing well in his rehab and bid to get back in the lineup this season.
Both he and defensive tackle Marlon Walls went down during the first week of practice last season with matching Achilles injuries, forcing UT to replace a pair of expected starters and deal with a shorter talent pool all season up front. The Vols addressed the lack of depth by landing four defensive linemen on National Signing Day, and the anticipated return of Walls and Martin would have been icing on the cake.
But UT wasn’t banking on guaranteed production from them once the recovery process was over. And particularly in Martin’s case, coach Derek Dooley indicated in a December interview that the Vols would have to be able to move forward without the defensive end if he couldn’t get healthy after using his redshirt season last fall and being limited last spring with a knee injury.
“You lost experience in Ben,” Dooley said. “I view them as gravy. I’m approaching it as if they don’t exist in recruiting, because I haven’t seen them do anything. That doesn’t mean they won’t or can’t, but I’ve never seen Ben Martin practice one down since he’s been here. To sit there and say we’ve got an all-conference end coming back is a little bit absurd to me.
“If they come back - do we need them to come back and be good players? Absolutely we do. We’ll see.”
After another setback to another Achilles, it will take Martin a bit longer to show the Vols whether or not he can pull it off.
Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.