KNOXVILLE - Jacques Smith's splendid spring came to a crashing end during Wednesday's practice.
The Tennessee defensive end and former Ooltewah High School star suffered an undisclosed foot injury Wednesday that will keep him out possibly until June.
"He's hurt," UT coach Derek Dooley said after Thursday's in Neyland Stadium, "but we won't know until the doctors get a full look at him (and) the extent of it. Probably the worst-case scenario - we do expect him to be full-go by June, which is the summer program. But I don't know. We get that initial deal from (Jason) McVeigh, who's the trainer, but I always want to reserve what we say until we get the official word from the doc."
Smith, who thrived as a freshman last season as a pass-rushing specialist off the bench, had played his way into an entrenched role as a starter and one of the better players on the Volunteers' defense.
"Jacques, he had a wonderful spring," said defensive end Steven Fowlkes, who worked with the first four on the defensive line on Thursday.
"I think he's the best defensive lineman we have so far this spring, so seeing him go down was a hard pill for us to swallow, but we're going to be all right. He's going to get better and he's going to be ready for September when we play Montana."
Though Smith's injury might have happened at the best possible time as far as long-term effects, it's a stunt to the growth he's made over the offseason and spring practice.
"You train year-round, so any time a guy gets hurt it's a setback," Dooley said. "It's better to do it now than August. It doesn't have a lot to do with (adding) weight as much as strength levels and training, the mental conditioning, there's so much into it. Nobody ever is there and when you're not working out training, you're getting behind because your competitors are."
More details online and in Friday's Times Free Press.