UT freshman Corey Vereen undergoes knee surgery, but expected to return this year

University of Tennessee defensive lineman Corey Vereen completes a drill before a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, April 13, 2013 in Knoxville. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

University of Tennessee defensive lineman Corey Vereen completes a drill before a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, April 13, 2013 in Knoxville. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Promising Tennessee freshman defensive end Corey Vereen underwent successful knee surgery on Thursday and doctors are optimistic he could return to play this year, a person familiar with the injury told the News Sentinel.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because UT has not yet publicly released information about the injury.

Vereen suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament, a ligament in the knee for which recovery time can vary greatly. But UT was confident after surgery that the injury won’t end his season and recovery time could be as quick as six weeks, depending on rehabilitation.

A native of Winter Garden, Fla., Vereen was expected to push for playing time at the “Leo” end spot, which is a linebacker-end hybrid position meant to take advantage of speedy and athletic linemen.

Vereen’s absence comes at a bad time. Jones announced on Wednesday that starting Leo end Jacques Smith had undergone surgery for a fractured thumb on his right hand. Smith is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks, although Jones said there was at least a chance he could return by the Aug. 31 opener against Austin Peay.

Vereen graduated from high school early and enrolled at UT in January, and coaches raved about his performance in spring practice.

Tennessee defensive line coach and associate head coach Steve Stripling, who has more than 30 years of coaching experience, said Vereen was one of the hardest-working young players he’d ever coached.

“I love him,” Stripling said. “I promise you, at nine o’clock at night you’ll find him in (the football complex) doing something. He is the most motivated freshman I’ve ever seen in my career. He is unbelievable.”

Junior Jordan Williams was listed as Smith’s backup on the preseason depth chart. Other options could be veterans Marlon Walls and Corey Miller and freshman Jaylen Miller.

“We have some veterans at that position that have played a lot of football here,” Jones said on Wednesday.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments » 29

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

That's a relieve. Calling it a sprain though doesn't sound accurate..No matter though because this kids such a hard worker you can safely knock 10 days off that 6 weeks..IMO Vereen is a sure fire one man wrecking crew in the not so distant future

bmgvirgo#210233 writes:

Usually a MCL sprain does not require surgery. It can heal on its on in 6 weeks. Been there and done that one myself.

madmaxvol writes:

"The person spoke on condition of anonymity because UT has not yet publicly released information about the injury."

Hopefully they can ferret out the mole before the season starts.

jdisintn writes:

Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Hard work pays off young man. Looking forward to seeing the VOLS on the field again. Almost football time here in good ole Tennessee.

ewoodbery (staff) writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

That's a relieve. Calling it a sprain though doesn't sound accurate..No matter though because this kids such a hard worker you can safely knock 10 days off that 6 weeks..IMO Vereen is a sure fire one man wrecking crew in the not so distant future

Would it be a tear because it required surgery?

I'm not a sports medicine expert, and it was described to me as an MCL...but perhaps I wrongly inferred the sprain part. I will check, and I imagine Butch will offer more clarity when he addresses it after practice.

My research and experience does seem to indicate that recovery time from MCL injuries can vary quite a bit. And after surgery they feel confident this is not one of those "major" year-ending deals.

If there are any medical doctors reading, feel free to weigh in.

-- Evan

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to madmaxvol:

"The person spoke on condition of anonymity because UT has not yet publicly released information about the injury."

Hopefully they can ferret out the mole before the season starts.

That's really kind of silly, isn't it? The "mole", as you inaccurately label him/her, didn't cause the injury. For all we know, it could be a roommate, a teammate, a family member, or even Vereen himself.

Don't shoot the messenger.

tvol71 writes:

Tough way to start a promising college career. Hopefully he will be fully recovered soon. Best wishes.

ElizabethtonvolnNC writes:

I had an uneasy feeling the "other shoe was going to drop" when the Football Vols made it out of spring in good shape.

Let's hope we have seen the last of the injury bug! GO VOLS!

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to ewoodbery:

Would it be a tear because it required surgery?

I'm not a sports medicine expert, and it was described to me as an MCL...but perhaps I wrongly inferred the sprain part. I will check, and I imagine Butch will offer more clarity when he addresses it after practice.

My research and experience does seem to indicate that recovery time from MCL injuries can vary quite a bit. And after surgery they feel confident this is not one of those "major" year-ending deals.

If there are any medical doctors reading, feel free to weigh in.

-- Evan

You know, you deserve a lot of credit for actually responding to comments on your stories and (gasp!) acknowledging that maybe you misunderstood what you heard... a note of humility that a lot of us (not just sportswriters) could adopt.

Thanks for your reporting, Evan!

onetruevol706 writes:

in response to ewoodbery:

Would it be a tear because it required surgery?

I'm not a sports medicine expert, and it was described to me as an MCL...but perhaps I wrongly inferred the sprain part. I will check, and I imagine Butch will offer more clarity when he addresses it after practice.

My research and experience does seem to indicate that recovery time from MCL injuries can vary quite a bit. And after surgery they feel confident this is not one of those "major" year-ending deals.

If there are any medical doctors reading, feel free to weigh in.

-- Evan

Even tears are sprains...example if you tear your ACL its a 3rd degree sprain. Take it from a guy that's had two 3rd degree ACL and one 3rd MCL sprains.

GatorHater1998 writes:

Has anyone heard anything on Jason Carr? I haven't heard his name mentioned at all.

kazoo writes:

I notice that he's wearing a knee brace in the photo on this page. I wonder if that's the same knee--and if he had some issues with it when he got to UT. If he can't he's not ready to play against the SEC teams in the first half of our schedule, he might as well be redshirted--why waste a year of eligibility so that he can play against kentucky and vanderbilt?

ctwins writes:

Get well soon....

brokendownoldvol writes:

What kind of surgery do they do on a sprain?

antonio14313 writes:

...just in time to come back for florida week.

speedy and successful recovery, young man.

GO VOLS!

t

ewoodbery (staff) writes:

in response to onetruevol706:

Even tears are sprains...example if you tear your ACL its a 3rd degree sprain. Take it from a guy that's had two 3rd degree ACL and one 3rd MCL sprains.

That is correct. I just talked to a sports medicine doctor (he lives out of state and has nothing to do with Tennessee).

He says a really bad MCL injury might be described as a "full tear," but a "sprain" and a "tear" are not mutually exclusive.

In this case, it's possible that Vereen has sprained an MCL and has a minor tear.

He also said six weeks didn't strike him as impossibly optimistic if it is, in fact, a minor or low-grade MCL sprain.

Finally, he noted that when people think of "surgery," they think of someone going under for 12 hours for very complicated stuff. In fact, many surgeries are minimally invasive. In this case, even a knee scope to determine the extent of his MCL injury would be considered a surgery, even if the primary reason for doing it was just to get in the knee and see how bad it looked.

-- Evan

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to ewoodbery:

Would it be a tear because it required surgery?

I'm not a sports medicine expert, and it was described to me as an MCL...but perhaps I wrongly inferred the sprain part. I will check, and I imagine Butch will offer more clarity when he addresses it after practice.

My research and experience does seem to indicate that recovery time from MCL injuries can vary quite a bit. And after surgery they feel confident this is not one of those "major" year-ending deals.

If there are any medical doctors reading, feel free to weigh in.

-- Evan

Definitely a tear if surgery was required.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to madmaxvol:

"The person spoke on condition of anonymity because UT has not yet publicly released information about the injury."

Hopefully they can ferret out the mole before the season starts.

People need to get over the anonymity gig. It's common in institutions dealing with the media when waiting on the piece of paper with the i's dotted and t's crossed by a cadre of lawyers. It is most likely someone in the AD's office "authorized" to knowledgeably speak, just off the record. There is no "Deep Throat" making clandestine calls to KNS. It could have been Stripling or even Jones himself, speaking off the record. Evan won't tell.

h8FLORIDA writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Definitely a tear if surgery was required.

More than likely they also cleaned up his meniscus. In most cases if you tear (or badly sprain) a knee ligament you also tear your meniscus, so the scope (or surgery) was probably diagnostic in nature and used to clean out his knee. All speculation, but I've had 5 knee surgeries

Ayres_Hall writes:

The photo of him wearing a brace on one knee leads me to believe he already had issues, maybe someting with his meniscus. Surgery was, more than likely, to clean up the existing issues because he was looking at 6-weeks recovery for the MCL sprain, anyway. And the Doc could check the MCL while in there.

That's my business school diagnosis.

wagee12 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

The photo of him wearing a brace on one knee leads me to believe he already had issues, maybe someting with his meniscus. Surgery was, more than likely, to clean up the existing issues because he was looking at 6-weeks recovery for the MCL sprain, anyway. And the Doc could check the MCL while in there.

That's my business school diagnosis.

OK, if you can offer a B-school diagnosis, I should be able to offer a law school comment ;-)

I think, if you look at other photos, almost all linemen everywhere wear knee braces nowadays on both knees as a precautionary measure, whether or not they've had prior knee issues. I recall reading an article over a decade before that talked about it, because the materials in a modern-day brace are so lightweight and non-restrictive, and offer so much support and protection, somebody somewhere said "Well, let's just make it a standard piece of equipment that we issue to linemen." Skill position players still find them a bit restrictive, so they don't issue braces to them unless needed.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to ReeseHallRelic:

OK, if you can offer a B-school diagnosis, I should be able to offer a law school comment ;-)

I think, if you look at other photos, almost all linemen everywhere wear knee braces nowadays on both knees as a precautionary measure, whether or not they've had prior knee issues. I recall reading an article over a decade before that talked about it, because the materials in a modern-day brace are so lightweight and non-restrictive, and offer so much support and protection, somebody somewhere said "Well, let's just make it a standard piece of equipment that we issue to linemen." Skill position players still find them a bit restrictive, so they don't issue braces to them unless needed.

Here's some photos I came across, just so I could prove (to myself) that it wasn't just my imagination. ALTHOUGH it may only be offensive linemen who wear braces regularly.

http://gapcache.lingospot.com/2013/03...

http://binaryapi.ap.org/16f08aec3c484...

http://grfx.cstv.com/schools/alab/gra...

http://cdn0.sbnation.com/entry_photo_...

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to h8FLORIDA:

More than likely they also cleaned up his meniscus. In most cases if you tear (or badly sprain) a knee ligament you also tear your meniscus, so the scope (or surgery) was probably diagnostic in nature and used to clean out his knee. All speculation, but I've had 5 knee surgeries

Good point, i nearly cut my leg off at the knee when i was 7 years old. My whole knee was reconstructed and stayed in a hip cast for 6 months.

ewoodbery (staff) writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

The photo of him wearing a brace on one knee leads me to believe he already had issues, maybe someting with his meniscus. Surgery was, more than likely, to clean up the existing issues because he was looking at 6-weeks recovery for the MCL sprain, anyway. And the Doc could check the MCL while in there.

That's my business school diagnosis.

I think you're on the right track about the latter part.

-- Evan

orangebloodgmc writes:

So the article is all about Vereen ... then they stuck in a couple of random J. Smith references ... who is the f'in "editor"??? Oh right, John Adams. That explains everything.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to orangebloodgmc:

So the article is all about Vereen ... then they stuck in a couple of random J. Smith references ... who is the f'in "editor"??? Oh right, John Adams. That explains everything.

Let's see, who would you expect to be highlighted in a story with the headline "UT freshman Corey Vereen undergoes knee surgery, but expected to return this year"? Corey Vereen? Or Jacques Smith?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to orangebloodgmc:

So the article is all about Vereen ... then they stuck in a couple of random J. Smith references ... who is the f'in "editor"??? Oh right, John Adams. That explains everything.

Not exactly random. The article was about Vereen, but he plays the same position--rush end--as Jacques Smith, who was already injured. For a thin Vol team that really needs lots of improvement from the D-line, especially in rushing the passer, the loss of two players from that one position makes for an important pre-season football story, at least IMHO.

edee writes:

Corey the Warriors are pulling for you..we miss you

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