Mocs' D.J. Key watches for now

Mocs' D.J. Key watches for now

March 28th, 2013 by John Frierson in Sports - College

D.J. Key from UTC

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

D.J. Key heads back to see his doctor today. If all goes well, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga safety said he hopes to ditch the boot on his left foot and the crutches that have been with him nonstop for months.

Key, second on the team with 82 tackles last season and one of the top defensive backs in the Southern Conference the past three seasons, will not practice this spring, regardless of when the boot is removed. Instead, the first-team All-SoCon pick will do what he did Wednesday.

"I miss being out there, but I'm into my coaching role right now," he said. "I'm just helping out all of the safeties."

Key and sophomore Zach McCarter, who started six games at safety last season, are both recovering from offseason surgeries and are out this spring. Their absence has one upside, it provides more snaps and repetitions for UTC's backups.

"D.J. wasn't going to get a whole lot of snaps this spring anyway," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "We've got a bunch of young guys we've got to get ready, some people that haven't played the position."

Key was originally just getting his left foot scoped, but that led to micro-fracture surgery and the long layoff.

"Once I get going, I'm going to be hitting the rehab hard," Key said.

The Mocs' practice Wednesday was their fifth of the spring. Among the highlights was a 57-yard field goal by Henrique Ribeiro.

UTC will be off Friday for Good Friday and will resume practice Monday. The Mocs' first scrimmage is April 5.