Herman Lathers won't be ready for start of season

North Carolina tight end Ryan Taylor (49) is knocked out of bounds by Tennessee defenders Herman Lathers (34) and Marsalis Teague (10) in the first quarter of the Music City Bowl NCAA college football game on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, in Nashville. North Carolina head coach Butch Davis, right, looks on.

Photo by Mark Humphrey, Associated Press

North Carolina tight end Ryan Taylor (49) is knocked out of bounds by Tennessee defenders Herman Lathers (34) and Marsalis Teague (10) in the first quarter of the Music City Bowl NCAA college football game on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, in Nashville. North Carolina head coach Butch Davis, right, looks on.

Perhaps the thinnest position on the Tennessee roster will be even more shorthanded when camp opens this fall.

And one more player expected to provide valuable depth in the middle of the defense will just be coming off yet another surgery.

Vols coach Derek Dooley confirmed through UT spokesman Jimmy Stanton on Saturday night that returning starter Herman Lathers won’t be ready for the beginning of the season after fracturing an ankle last week, an injury that will require surgery to repair and has no definite timetable for return. Backup Greg King also required arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, but the procedure performed Friday is expected to have him ready in time for camp in August.

The potential loss of Lathers could be particularly damaging for the Vols, who were counting on the only returning starter at linebacker to bounce back from the shoulder surgery that kept him out of spring practice to anchor a group that doesn’t boast much experience.

The junior started each of the 12 games he played in last season, missing just one contest with an ankle injury unrelated to the one suffered some time in the middle of last week. His 75 tackles were the second-highest total on the team behind only Nick Reveiz, one of the two departed seniors who filled the starting roles alongside Lathers at linebacker.

The post-spring depth chart released by the Vols listed King as the backup behind Lathers at the weak-side position, and both have had their share of physical concerns lately. King missed almost all of last season after undergoing surgery on his knee, which has been a recurring problem for him throughout a promising career that has struggled to gain traction because of the run of bad health.

The latest procedure should have King back on the field when practice resumes in August, putting him in the mix of a job competition that will likely now feature more opportunities for freshmen like A.J. Johnson and Christian Harris as the Vols continue to deal with a linebacking corps that continues to struggle to avoid the training room.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 22

The_Real_Orange writes:

Ever wonder how come so many players get hurt when there isn't any practice this time of year? Just sayin.....

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

That's just great. This is the second most important position on the team and it is now our weakest. That does not bode well for the upcoming season.On the positive side, it will help in recruiting, means playing time sooner for the newbies.

lomas98 writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

Ever wonder how come so many players get hurt when there isn't any practice this time of year? Just sayin.....

Are you suggesting players should stay in a bubble throughout the offseason?

VOLliven2it writes:

I hate to see this. I was hoping to see Herman give some strong leadership and hopefully he still can. But this is a setback for sure. It is going to be step up time again in Big Orange Country. We just don't need more injuries to key players.

tmartin writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

and/or telling us what he was doing when he broke it. I know UT cant disclose that, but that doesnt stop the famous "undisclosed source".

jbvol04 writes:

Lathers was injured in 7 on 7 drills.

Dalton writes:

He should be back for the meat of the schedule and if not....roll with what you got...it's less frustrating than if this was a disclipine/legal absence.....players get hurt walking their dogs.....whatcha gonna do?. Cry orange tears until bones don't break and tendons don't snap anymore?

VOODOOley-2011 (Inactive) writes:

How did he break his ankle I wonder? I broke mine once carrying in firewood on Christmas Eve once. I hope Lathers broke his working out, and NOT by falling off a bar stool. Does anyone know?

GO VOLS

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

No need in being upset because these things happen to every team.

We'll just play with the people we have and watch to see if a couple of the young guns can step it up and keep rolling along.

VFL...GO BIG ORANGE!!!

CarbonCopy (Inactive) writes:

Always gonna happen in football, depth always fixes it.

Pompey writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

Ever wonder how come so many players get hurt when there isn't any practice this time of year? Just sayin.....

....I have always wanted to see data on injuries of UT starters compared to the rest of the SEC...

CoverOrange writes:

Bones take 6-8 weeks to heal. That is the beginning of August and the start of fall practice. Another 3-4 weeks to re-gain strength and get back in the rotation. Why would he miss any games? I'm not a doctor, but I'm playing one on a sports board.

HtownVol writes:

Too bad the RECRUITING services are wrong (completely) a good percentage of the time.
J Askew
C Donald

Maybe the 3rd ranked LB we signed will be one of the ones they were right on.

GO VOLS!

orangeman1 writes:

in response to HtownVol:

Too bad the RECRUITING services are wrong (completely) a good percentage of the time.
J Askew
C Donald

Maybe the 3rd ranked LB we signed will be one of the ones they were right on.

GO VOLS!

yep, its time for these diamonds in the rough to step up. Injuries are just a part of football. UT has talent, so hopefully 2nd string will take this opportunity and run with it.

tnfanincali writes:

Austin Johnson at times last year looked to me like he was close to being ready to step in as a leader on defense, and possibly even a team captain. At times. He also showed his inexperience and youth at times, but I think he might be ready. Vereen looked good at times as well (when he saw the field that is) and seemed to like to lay the wood, but he also looked lost at times. If Greg King can stay healthy, and Nigel Mitchel-Thornton can step in to rest the others and not drop off too much, we may be able to handle the loss for the first couple of games. Propst got some good marks coming out of spring if I remember correctly. Aside from those guys, Maggitt and AJ Johnson may have to step in earlier than we thought, and Byron Moore could possibly play outside if he could put on a little bit of weight, but that would be asking a lot of a true freshman to try to learn a new position that he may not have ever played before... Other than that we may be seeing a lot more nickel D till we get this linebacker thing figured out. Or maybe an Eric Berry ala 2009 rover type position. Dunno, just a few thoughts. Get well soon Lathers!

HtownVol writes:

in response to orangeman1:

yep, its time for these diamonds in the rough to step up. Injuries are just a part of football. UT has talent, so hopefully 2nd string will take this opportunity and run with it.

I really think that LB is a area that UT is kinda in good shape.

Austin Johnson is a FOOTBALL player.
Robert Nelson had almost 200 tackles his sr season in High School
Nigel Mitchel Thorton
Crump
Propst
Plus Curt Maggitt and AJ Johnson are both top LB recruits.

It will be just fine!

easleychuck writes:

Sorry LB is thin and inexperienced any way you slice it. Having Lathers and King unable to get stronger and faster this summer is not a good thing.

MtJ_Orange writes:

I think Austin Johnson has gotten better but I seem to recall him whiffing on some routine tackles last year. I do think that someone will standout of this group and become an impact player.

John_10065 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Bones take 6-8 weeks to heal. That is the beginning of August and the start of fall practice. Another 3-4 weeks to re-gain strength and get back in the rotation. Why would he miss any games? I'm not a doctor, but I'm playing one on a sports board.

As long as you slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night, we'll take you for your word!

TKO writes:

Dang!

DenverVol writes:

in response to easleychuck:

Sorry LB is thin and inexperienced any way you slice it. Having Lathers and King unable to get stronger and faster this summer is not a good thing.

Totally agree with this. Even if Lathers misses just the opener, it's too much. We need him to be an anchor out there for a young, inexperienced D. Anxious to see who of the young guys can step up. Go Vols.

volman67 writes:

maybe use exbaseball player at linebacker to help out there. it seemed to me he would be a good L.B., maybe a little small but he could grow into the position by add some weight,,he seems to be a good hiter,,,well just thought , who else out there thinks this would be worth a try for dooley and staff.

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