KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee's No. 1 will play against college football's No. 1.
After not making the trip with the Volunteers to Texas A&M last week, running back Jalen Hurd will play against top-ranked Alabama when the two traditional rivals clash inside Neyland Stadium on Saturday.
On the SEC coaches' teleconference on Wednesday, Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Hurd was "full strength" and "ready to go" after sitting out most of the second half at Georgia and missing the double-overtime loss to the Aggies last week.
"It was great to have him back," Jones said later Wednesday at his weekly press conference. "He's had a good week of preparation, so we're excited about that."
The Vols are awaiting word on the status of a couple other players, but Jones provided firmer updates on two key players on Wednesday.
Starting center Dylan Wiesman is doubtful to play after leaving the game in College Station with what clearly looked like a concussion, but linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. will be a game-time call.
The sophomore missed the past four games after hurting his ankle against Virginia Tech last month, but he was a participant in practice on Tuesday with his bum ankle heavily taped.
"He did practice yesterday," Jones said. "He'll get more extensive practice today. That was great to see."
The other injury question marks for the Vols are linebacker Cortez McDowell and left guard Jashon Robertson.
McDowell was taken to the locker room after a hard helmet-to-helmet hit with Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams in the second half, and Robertson left the stadium on crutches after his right ankle was rolled up on during a play in the fourth quarter.
Elliott Berry finished the game for McDowell, while redshirt freshman Venzell Boulware stepped in for Robertson alongside Coleman Thomas, who earlier replaced Wiesman at center.
Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said the case could be made Colton Jumper, Kirkland's replacement, has been the defense's most valuable player outside of all-star defensive end Derek Barnett, and Jumper's ability to play multiple linebacker positions makes it possible those two could play together if Kirkland returns.
"If he can play and be effective, whether that's at 70, 80, 90 or 100 percent, then he can play," Shoop said.
"He's making strides. You guys were out there and seeing some of the things he's doing. When he's prepared ... we'll make a decision that, but we're excited about Colton, we're excited (Elliott) Berry showed progress last week. But I'm not going to deny that I certainly would like to have Darrin Kirkland back."
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