On Saturday Tennessee offensive lineman Brett Kendrick, a redshirt senior, sustained a concussion and was eventually pulled from the Kentucky game for that injury. But according to multiple sources inside the Tennessee program who reached out to Outkick under the condition of anonymity Kendrick wasn’t pulled from the game until there were only 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter and that was only after he threw up on the sideline.
According to these same sources Kendrick suffered the concussion late in the second quarter and was unable to remember the entire second half of the game. Indeed, Kendrick was so out of sorts that he suffered a procedure penalty for being unable to line up properly on the line of scrimmage, something that never happens to the fifth year senior.
At halftime other linemen recognized that Kendrick was woozy, but Kendrick didn’t want to let his team down and didn’t approach trainers to notify them of his injury. That was because offensive line coach Walt Wells, who multiple sources believe had to know Kendrick was concussed, repeatedly exhorted Kendrick, “We need you to go!” and pointed out that Kendrick’s back up had not made the trip to Lexington.
According to Outkick sources at no point was Kendrick given a concussion test on the sideline by trainers because players have been told that medical staff only conduct these tests at Tennessee when players notify doctors and trainers of their potential injury. Otherwise the assumption is a player is healthy enough to play.
After the game, Kendrick didn’t know the score and his visible appearance was so bad that athletic director John Currie approached him and said he didn’t look good.
Outkick reached out to Brett Kendrick and members of his family to request comment on this story and the assertions made by those close to the program about this situation, but they declined to speak to any media.
Other sources close to the Tennessee football program, however, confirmed that there is an active investigation into Kendrick’s concussion and who knew about it on the Tennessee sideline.
That’s because yesterday the Kendrick family contacted athletic director John Currie about their concerns with the medical treatment their son received and requested that Tennessee determine how Brett Kendrick was able to play for so long with a concussion.
The family met with the training staff yesterday afternoon to express their concerns.
When the family arrived for that meeting with the training staff head coach Butch Jones was present and denied having any knowledge about Kendrick’s concussion or the fact that he remained in the game for two quarters after suffering that injury.
The family has another meeting scheduled with athletic director John Currie this afternoon to discuss the ongoing investigation.
This morning Tennessee released a statement without mentioning Kendrick specifically that dealt with player health issues on the sideline.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes is our number one responsibility. Our sports medicine staff and team medical personnel have full autonomy and unquestioned authority during all team activities, including the ability to remove a player from competition and ‘return to play’ decisions. At all football games, the Southeastern Conference has a trained independent medical observer present who also has full authority to stop play and remove a student-athlete from competition for assessment and/or treatment.
“We have a constant and consistently communicated expectation that all coaches, staff and student-athletes remain attentive to ensure that any potential injuries are appropriately addressed—with full intentions that student-athlete safety is never compromised.”
But Kendrick’s health and safety certainly seems to have been compromised here.
In addition to the very valid concerns about a player’s health, the investigation comes at a serious time for head coach Butch Jones, whose Volunteers are 3-5 and playing Southern Miss on Saturday. Jones’s job status has been in jeopardy for weeks and if it’s determined that Butch Jones or his staff knew about Kendrick’s concussion and continued to play him then Tennessee could be able to fire Jones for cause, avoiding paying him the remaining nine million dollars owed on his contract.
According to sources inside the Tennessee program Brett Kendrick will not play against Southern Miss as even four days after the injury he still has not passed the concussion protocol.
The same concussion protocol that he never received on the sideline at Kentucky.