KNOXVILLE — Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt said Wednesday that it would not surprise him to have fifth-year senior safety Todd Kelly Jr. back on the field "sooner rather than later," though Kelly is not expected to be ready for Saturday's home game against the University of Texas at El Paso.
Kelly received a medical redshirt for the 2017 season after a knee injury that required surgery forced him to miss all but two games.
Kelly, who has started 16 games in his collegiate career, is listed as a third-team safety on the depth chart as he continues working back from the knee injury.
Pruitt noted Kelly has "had some setbacks" with his recovery but has maintained a positive attitude.
"He's worked really hard to overcome the injury he sustained last year," Pruitt said. "With that, structurally his knee is fine. But when you stay off from running, competing and practicing for as long as Todd has, it takes a while for his body, the muscles and everything, to get back. When he does start practicing, which he did in the summer and the latter part of fall camp, it takes a while for his body to recover."
Kelly has 158 career tackles and eight interceptions. The Volunteers have relied heavily on three freshmen in the secondary early in the season.