Justin Hunter out for season

Derek Dooley wanted scars on his football team.

A literal one on the knee of his star wide receiver surely wasn’t what the Tennessee coach had in mind.

A season that started with so much promise for Justin Hunter is over after two games and four plays, and surgery to correct a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee will officially end what had been a breakout sophomore campaign.

“It’s a big deal,” fellow wideout Da’Rick Rogers said after the 33-23 loss at No. 15 Florida on Saturday. “Justin’s a big playmaker. You take him out of the game, you can easily just take over 100 yards, over eight catches and a few touchdowns off the board.

“I just told him, ‘Hey, bro, we’re going to be all right. You’ve just got to fight hard, we’ll be all right, we’ll try to pull through this game without you. You’ve just got to make sure you get healthy.’”

Hunter won’t do that in time to help UT (2-1, 0-1 SEC) again this fall, taking away one of the Vols’ most dangerous weapons and also decreasing the depth at a position that had relied heavily on the talented and dangerous combination he formed with Rogers.

That’s obviously not encouraging news for the Vols in the short term, particularly since the style of their offense appeared to change significantly without the threat Hunter provided while piling up a conference-leading 302 yards on 16 catches with two touchdowns in the first two games of the season.

But in the long run, Hunter is expected to be able to participate in spring practice early next year. And assuming he returns as strong as he was before crumpling on the turf following a 12-yard catch on Saturday, the Vols could still have the makings of a well-rounded receiving corps moving forward with freshmen DeAnthony Arnett and Vincent Dallas now stepping up to fill the void in Hunter’s absence.

“First of all, you hate it for the kid,” Dooley said. “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 got to turn around and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got four quarters of football to play, we don’t have time to sulk.’

“We weren’t prepared for it, and it’s not like we had time to get ready. Everybody had to change a little bit, and all the plays you had for him, now someone else is running them.”

It may take several of the options UT has on hand to replace the production Hunter was providing, and it did get a look at them in a tough situation against the Gators.

Arnett came off the bench to lead the team with eight catches and finished the game with 59 yards. Tight end Mychal Rivera continued his emergence as a viable target and added five catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Dallas chipped in a catch, sophomore Matt Milton added another — and Rogers is still healthy and likely to take some pressure off the others by commanding opposing defenses’ attention.

But whatever the Vols elect to do, one sliver of a silver lining is that it will have extra time to figure it out with an off date coming up before facing lightly-regarded Buffalo the following week.

“It was good to have (Arnett) out there,” Dooley said. “He’s going to have to play a lot more now. He caught eight passes, a bunch of little short stuff. He’s going to have to grow up, Vincent Dallas is going to have to grow up.

“The things that started getting us (into trouble against Florida) were some of the pressures. When they bring the heat, (Hunter) is a big part of our blitz control. So now you’ve got different guys in there that you have to throw to.”

That is officially the case for the Vols until next spring.

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Comments » 140

thevoice writes:

How tragic! Get better soon, son. Sure enjoyed watching you catch a TD pass every 3rd catch.

Heavyhitr writes:

Heck Far!! I might be hard to recover from that one!!

Ironcity writes:

I don't think anyone is surprised by this. The god news if their is any in this is that medicine today allows Justin to return for spring practice. In the 70s his career would have been over.

voloffaith writes:

Only good part here is still early in season so time to recover is extended as opposed to injury near seasons end. Will he play football or reconsider back to track only is question that might arise as I believe someone posted he has aspirations for next Olympics possibly.

bobbettac writes:

This could be Milton's time to step up and shine though. Who knows...... All three will be back next year with another year of experience under their belt. With Bama and Fla at home.. team full of juniors with that kinda talent screams SEC title.

winbigvols14 writes:

Hunter is truely a special player as well as a person. We will miss him terribly but someone else needs to step up. Get well soon Justin.

rockytop95 writes:

this hurts us bad

ellerbee123 writes:

Good luck Justin.... Hope the rehabilitation goes great. OK Arnett and the rest of the wide receivers, it's time for you guys to show what your made of.

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

voloffaith writes:

in response to Ironcity:

I don't think anyone is surprised by this. The god news if their is any in this is that medicine today allows Justin to return for spring practice. In the 70s his career would have been over.

You're right Ironcity..."the god news" is ....Yes God has granted doctors the abilty to allow many players to return to play vs as you stated in earlier years this would have been career ending.

rtrchatt writes:

A sad part of our great game college fb. 2 yrs
before he returns to the talent level shown in his early career. Will play next yr but not the same player more than likely.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

This is a tough blow..Get well soon, Justin!!! YOU WILL BE MISSED!!!

Now the question is....Is he eligible for a medical redshirt since he went out early in the 3rd game??

Smokey says he will send some "get well quick" medicine..

Ttown1978 writes:

Put it this way i hate it as much as the rest of u but if that one player is all we have is what it seems alot of u r saying the we were doomed from the start come on there a pleanty waiting for there chance still got rogers he is still a threat so he gets the double team opens some one up

jobrando#216494 writes:

Heck, we get someone special and this happens. Not a good omen. What a gifted player and hope I'm on the planet to watch him next year. I assume no one can step up to replace him.

voloffaith writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As I challenged you on another post do you always exude this amount of joy and bliss? Hope you appreciate me changing up some words to not make it stale/empty like your post usually are....

On topic, prayers with Hunter family in this setback. Hope they know where to turn for true hope and help in these times.

mdvol writes:

Most significant injury to a VOL since Jamal Lewis. What happened then? Travis Henry happened. And, Travis Stephens. Just an opportunity for Arnette and Milton to step up because Bray is going to hit whomever is out there.

SEC EAST is still wide open. VOLS will be tough to beat in Neyland.

voloffaith writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

This is a tough blow..Get well soon, Justin!!! YOU WILL BE MISSED!!!

Now the question is....Is he eligible for a medical redshirt since he went out early in the 3rd game??

Smokey says he will send some "get well quick" medicine..

Thought you might go to witchy for a happy health concoction....Didn't know of puppy power. Wait you are a female so that maternal instinct is kicking in...ah now we understand....maybe

OrangePride writes:

What a stunning disappointment...for us and for Justin. I wish him a speedy recovery. In a team already thin in experienced players, this just makes our road all the more steep. Fortunately, we do have Rogers and some talented freshman who will just have to grow up real, real fast.

AllVol311 writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I was wondering when and how you would respond to this. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, but you proved that you are a completely classless individual. And a sad sack waste of space.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We want buy into that excuse even if he used it. Dont worry. You have to have patience to reap what your advocating on this board. It's simple if Dooley's rebuilding plan falls below a 7-5 season then no progress has been shown and you will be happy with the result. The rest of us will be wondering who's next. I like Dooley and hope he continues to take the program upward.

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

in response to MrDonCorleone:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't believe CDD will use this as a crutch (he does have class) anymore than he's an elite SEC coach...On the other hand, you will hear, and have heard, this excuse ad nauseum on this site...Expect it to continue as the losses mount.

UT-Pride writes:

Get better Justin.
Allvol311 and jobrando, I don't see why you respond to packer_I_need_attention_orange... If you just ignore them and don't respond, they'll go away. I use this method on his mom.

GBOEngineer writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please go away. you are stupid and everyone is tired of your phooey.

wigmeister writes:

A tough blow for Justin. Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game. Best of luck to him. The other receivers did not come here to sit. Time for the rest of the crew to step up and play for the school thy thought was the best fit for them. Buckle up boys! Time to raise the level of your play!!!

voloffaith writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Is this self replying to self? M_C_M_P you know momma has been visually impaired since your birth(though not due to it) and remember a mother never sees the wrong in one of her wayward ones....

RoadTrip writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Classy post. Now go out and lay down in front of a bus.

rtrchatt writes:

in response to mdvol:

Most significant injury to a VOL since Jamal Lewis. What happened then? Travis Henry happened. And, Travis Stephens. Just an opportunity for Arnette and Milton to step up because Bray is going to hit whomever is out there.

SEC EAST is still wide open. VOLS will be tough to beat in Neyland.

I trust you have fond memories of the only natioal
title you will witness in your lifetime lol. Vols tough in silent Neyland??? Since when? 10 yrs ago maybe. SEC (L)east wants no part of the West for the last few yrs. Makes no difference who shows up in Atlanta from the East in 2011

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have absolutely no doubt Derek Dooley will never use the injury to Hunter, a superb athlete, as an excuse...That's not in his DNA...But I fully expect it to be a recurring war chant of people here for our continued losses.

As for the depth problem and attrition caused by the departure of Kiffin. Sure it's an issue...How much more for Dooley, than Mullen in his 2nd year at MSU..probably not much...As for Franklin at Vandy, none at all...Despite MSU's two losses to superior talent, I do see in Mullen and Franklin, better assistant coaching, game management, and team demeanor...And that's coaching.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He was a four star but only got 6 or 7 offers. Not any of the big time programs. So I guess you hit the nail on the head that he lacked speed and ability. Hopefully he could prove us all wrong. Tyler is going to have to settle for smaller Targets.

Halls3 writes:

Tough break. Fortunately it's a tear & not a full blow out. A tear can be recovered from but a full blowout is usually a career altering injuring. Just gotta wonder how it will affect him. Willis McGahee comes to mind with this. All world til he blew his knee out in college & is now just an average player.

volsgirl23 writes:

In the face of adversity, the Vols will get through this. This young team will learn from this and the Florida game in general and they will rise above it. Dooley is a great coach. I think he's going to do wonderful things for the Vols! It's time for the other boys to step it up and show what they are made of!

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

I have absolutely no doubt Derek Dooley will never use the injury to Hunter, a superb athlete, as an excuse...That's not in his DNA...But I fully expect it to be a recurring war chant of people here for our continued losses.

As for the depth problem and attrition caused by the departure of Kiffin. Sure it's an issue...How much more for Dooley, than Mullen in his 2nd year at MSU..probably not much...As for Franklin at Vandy, none at all...Despite MSU's two losses to superior talent, I do see in Mullen and Franklin, better assistant coaching, game management, and team demeanor...And that's coaching.

I did happen to hear Franklin's very emotional comments after the win over the Rebels and well I'm sure the player's got well charged from his words.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

I trust you have fond memories of the only natioal
title you will witness in your lifetime lol. Vols tough in silent Neyland??? Since when? 10 yrs ago maybe. SEC (L)east wants no part of the West for the last few yrs. Makes no difference who shows up in Atlanta from the East in 2011

Could you please proofread and repost...I literally couldnt string 3 words together that were comprehendable to extract a cohert thought...HONESTLY...I think you were trying to be clever but I just couldnt tell...

BigVolinCarolina writes:

THE BAD NEWS: Really hate this for Justin and pray a full recovery. In the short term, this isn't good.

THE GOOD NEWS: The fact is that our team was a "Two-trick Pony" before Justin got hurt. In the long term, this should be good for our team because other guys are gonna have to step up. Bray primarily threw to D. Rogers and Hunter. Now, he's gotta find some new weapons.

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thank you..And while we're being honest, let's just admit that all the nonsense about Charlie Weis was just that.

Weis took a quarterback who was shell shocked from playing in the spread last year...Had him play within himself in a big game yesterday..Never asked him to stretch the field...and schemed and schooled Justin Wilcox like a Swat leader with a German Shepherd puppy..That's also coaching.

mdvol writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

This is a tough blow..Get well soon, Justin!!! YOU WILL BE MISSED!!!

Now the question is....Is he eligible for a medical redshirt since he went out early in the 3rd game??

Smokey says he will send some "get well quick" medicine..

I just read the NCAA medical redshirt rules which is similar to reading the IRS Tax Code or the Obama No-Jobs act.....

It appears Justin is ineligible for a medical redshirt by a total of 4 plays. He exceeded the two game participation rule and by 4 plays exceeded the 20% of the season rule.

HallowedHill writes:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Justin and his family.

GO VOLS!

ellerbee123 writes:

The "true" VOL fans will face this adversity as a "family." We will all show up a week from Saturday to show our support for the very young boys who will be asked to step up and take Justin's place. Good luck Justin and GO VOLS..

48orangenation48 writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

I trust you have fond memories of the only natioal
title you will witness in your lifetime lol. Vols tough in silent Neyland??? Since when? 10 yrs ago maybe. SEC (L)east wants no part of the West for the last few yrs. Makes no difference who shows up in Atlanta from the East in 2011

If you don't have something good to say as a vol, which you obviously aren't, get out of here.

jobrando#216494 writes:

Memory problem....Many years ago we had a big tall WR that begin a career as VOL and could just catch em all. What gifted person but in his case I think he had to be booted from the team for his weed problem. Any body remember his name?

y2church#372759 writes:

Sorry Justin. We love you! VFL baby.

Church

48orangenation48 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Memory problem....Many years ago we had a big tall WR that begin a career as VOL and could just catch em all. What gifted person but in his case I think he had to be booted from the team for his weed problem. Any body remember his name?

Not at the moment. Who was it?

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to 48orangenation48:

If you don't have something good to say as a vol, which you obviously aren't, get out of here.

You get my vote for Sheriff...Keep up the good work..

VT_Vol31 writes:

in response to mdvol:

I just read the NCAA medical redshirt rules which is similar to reading the IRS Tax Code or the Obama No-Jobs act.....

It appears Justin is ineligible for a medical redshirt by a total of 4 plays. He exceeded the two game participation rule and by 4 plays exceeded the 20% of the season rule.

With the two game rule and the 20%, you use which ever is greater. 20% of 12 is 2.4, and looking at the explanation, that is rounded up to 3. So for football players they can participate in up to 3 games and still qualify for a medical redshirt. Similar thing happened to a VT receiver who had a season ending injury this weekend but is eligible for a redshirt.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to 48orangenation48:

Not at the moment. Who was it?

me either that's why i'm asking but I can see him hauling in catches that folks in this era dont get to see much

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to smoky_moUnTain_sasqUaTch:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

just feed them water instead of gas and they will go away in time

48orangenation48 writes:

Yeh well I ain't sure who it is then. sorry

Jmac289 writes:

I wish Hunter the best of luck in his recovery. That's tough. I was really excited to watch him do his thing this year.

SummittsCourt writes:

Tough blow, but next man up! Let's go Vols!

The_Swamp writes:

The door opens for someone else to step up and prove they can contribute to the team and it's success.

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