For a team that has the task of ending an 11-year losing skid versus the Florida Gators, the Tennessee Volunteers will be short-handed on defense — again. Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who was ruled active for Saturday’s game, departed early in the opening quarter and will be out the rest of the game, according to CBS.
The defensive unit was already without the services of Quart’e Sapp, Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Cam Sutton against Florida, and lose arguably one of the top defenders in the entire country. During the second quarter of Tennessee’s Week 3 matchup with the Ohio Bobcats, Reeves-Maybin suffered a muscle strain in his shoulder. He was in practice on Tuesday with the Volunteers, though he was wearing a green, non-contact jersey.
The senior linebacker chipped in with two tackles during the Vols’ season-opener versus the Appalachian State Mountaineers, all before being ejected due to targeting. He returned with a big game the following week versus Virginia Tech, as Reeves-Maybin totaled 13 tackles, eight of which were solo. He’s off a three-tackle performance versus the Bobcats.
Reeves-Maybin came into the 2016 year as the team leader in tackles in each of the previous two seasons. His impact was severely missed during the first quarter and change, as Florida went down the field on the first drive of the game and scored; the Gators also opened up the second quarter with a quick touchdown.
Reeves-Maybin is a highly-touted NFL Draft prospect but his contributions on the field are needed for a defense that needs a pulse.