UT cornerback Riyahd Jones' injury absence will be 'lengthy,' Butch Jones says

University of Tennessee linebacker Greg King (48), center, shakes hands with coach Butch Jones as offensive lineman Ja'Wuan Jones (70), right, stands by during Media Day at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

University of Tennessee linebacker Greg King (48), center, shakes hands with coach Butch Jones as offensive lineman Ja'Wuan Jones (70), right, stands by during Media Day at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Junior cornerback Riyahd Jones’ absence due to a calf injury could be “lengthy,” Tennessee football coach Butch Jones said Thursday, acknowledging for the first time that the junior-college transfer could miss a large part of the season.

“It could be a couple of months,” Butch Jones said.

The cornerback watched gingerly using crutches while on the field at Neyland Stadium for the team photo on Thursday. He did not speak to reporters.

Butch Jones said Riyahd Jones still is undergoing test, but the root of his health problems were suddenly swollen calves. He wore a brace on one of the calves on Thursday and could only move around slowly.

Riyahd Jones expressed optimism in a Twitter post earlier this week, saying “cool jones is gonna be fine soon.” Cool Jones refers to his Twitter handle.

Freshman Cameron Sutton is the likeliest candidate to start the season at corner along with veteran Justin Coleman. Lack of depth at the position prompted coaches to move receiver Vincent Dallas to cornerback on Monday.

***

Sutton, fellow cornerback Malik Foreman and receivers Marquez North and Josh Smith are the most likely true freshmen to play early in 2013, but they won’t be the only ones.

Butch Jones said his staff discussed the issue in a recent meeting and determined that anywhere from 13 to 16 freshmen could see the field this year.

At key positions like receiver and defensive back, “They have no choice — they’re playing,” Jones said.

But that mentality could trickle down to other positions like defensive line or even offensive line, where there isn’t a significant depth problem.

True freshman offensive lineman Dylan Wiesman has pushed his way into the second-team rotation. Line coach Don Mahone singled out Wiesman and Mack Crowder for having solid camps.

***

Starting center James Stone is in better position than anyone to evaluate the performance of senior nose guard Daniel McCullers.

So when he’s asked to name unsung stars from the defensive line, it’s a compliment that McCullers is the first name that pops into his head — even though the 360-pound lineman is far from anonymous.

“Everybody knows about Dan, but I feel like he’s stepped up his game, as far as his motor goes,” Stone said. “He’s playing harder than I’ve ever seen him before. When he does play hard, it really tests the O-line.”

***

Linebacker Curt Maggitt said the one saving grace from the ACL injury that has limited his participation since spring ball is that his toe injury — last year’s pesky injury — has gone away.

Maggitt has spent most of camp on the sidelines or in a non-contact jersey, but he said his cautious return to action has been for the best. He said an open and honest relationship with the medical and training staff has made it easier.

Despite all that, he said he’s still not 100 percent and isn’t willing to put a date on when he will be.

“I’ve got 16 days to kickoff. I’m getting better every day, and we’ll see how things go then.”

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 8

TrueVOL64 writes:

I hate to hear this about this young man and I want to wish him a speedy recovery!!!

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

You'd have to believe that Tennessee will be playing a lot of zone defense this year; they have to to help out the weak corners.. that means, other teams can roll up the passing yards on us (Oregon, Florida), and without a high scoring offense ourselves, we'll simply get outscored in those games.

GO VOLS

NowHearThis writes:

Now I'm no doctor but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once. With that said, suddenly swollen calves are a bad sign and I would not expect the young man to ever play foosball again.

KC_VFL writes:

in response to NowHearThis:

Now I'm no doctor but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once. With that said, suddenly swollen calves are a bad sign and I would not expect the young man to ever play foosball again.

I'm not a doctor either, but Phewwww, that was close! Not so concerned that he can't play foosball ever again. We just really need him to play football.

bUTch_please writes:

That is the single strangest injury I have ever heard of..ever. all. time. What the....?

BrassMonkey writes:

Get ready to be torched in the secondary all year for the second year in a row.

antonio14313 writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

Get ready to be torched in the secondary all year for the second year in a row.

na, it won't be as bad as you think it will be (i hope!!!). as henley said above, we'll more than likely be playing a lot of zone (which could mean more turnovers in the red zone), but we won't be playing zone alot because of being "weak", like henley said, but i think because of being young and inexperienced. we don't know if the corners are weak just yet...

yeah, i've never heard of suddenly swollen calves either, and i'm in healthcare. i think he won't ever play football again either, but i hope that we both are wrong...

go vols!

t

johnlg00 writes:

Bad news! The coaches and the media all thought Riyahd was the real deal and would do much to stabilize the defensive backfield. "Suddenly swollen calves" doesn't sound like a routine football injury to me, either. Hope he will at least be OK some day!

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