KNOXVILLE - Ben Martin can't catch a break.
The Tennessee defensive end tore an Achilles' tendon Monday just as he was near the end of battling back from the Achilles' injury he suffered in the other leg during preseason practice last August. That one caused him to miss the entire 2010 season.
"Thanks for the support," Martin wrote on his Twitter account Monday evening. "I needed it but I know God has a plan for me and I'm not hanging my head. I'm ready for this long road."
A former five-star recruit out of La Salle High School in Cincinnati, the 6-foot-3, 251-pound Martin will miss spring practice, and his status for the 2011 season is uncertain. He would be a senior.
After making 38 tackles with 3.5 sacks in 11 starts in 2009, Martin missed all of last spring practice because of a knee injury. He was set to start last season when he ruptured his Achilles' in a noncontact drill on the second day of preseason camp.
"I've never seen Ben [practice] since I got here," UT coach Derek Dooley said the day Martin got hurt. "He didn't go through snaps in the spring. He's been kind of this mystery to me. He hasn't been 100 percent since I got here."
Martin's uncertain status and the completed eligibility of Chris Walker and Gerald Williams leave the Volunteers with just three scholarship defensive ends: sophomores-to-be Corey Miller and Jacques Smith and junior Willie Bohannon.
Both Miller and Smith, a former Ooltewah star, played significantly last season and combined for seven tackles for loss and five sacks. Bohannon had three sacks the past two seasons in a backup role.
UT's 2011 signees include Jordan Williams, a 6-5, 250-pound defensive end out of Gainesville, Fla., and Curt Maggitt, a 6-3, 215-pound pass rush specialist from West Palm Beach.