Tennessee offensive lineman Riley Locklear is ending his football career due to injuries, he told the Knoxville News Sentinel on Friday night. The veteran from West Virginia started four games over the past four seasons for the Vols, but his 2020 season was ended after just three games by a shoulder injury that forced him to miss Tennessee’s spring practices earlier this year. Locklear told the Knoxville News Sentinel he’ll now look into starting his post-football career in sales or business and remain in Knoxville.
The 6-foot-4, 285-pound guard played in 24 games during his career at Tennessee and planned to use his extra year of eligibility to play his final season with the Vols after the NCAA made the 2020 season a free year for all players due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, Locklear, who graduated in May after completing his degree in kinesiology, has decided that ending his football career is in his best interests.
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Locklear was rated a three-star prospect and ranked the No. 606 overall player and No. 62 offensive tackle in the industry-generated 247Sports Composite for the 2017 class when he signed with Tennessee out of Spring Valley High School in Huntington, W.Va. He was on track to redshirt during his freshman season when a wave of attrition and injuries on Tennessee’s offensive line forced him into the lineup against Southern Miss. Locklear started at right guard in the final two games of the 2017 season against LSU and Vanderbilt.
A knee injury limited Locklear to six games, all appearances off the bench, during the 2019 season, but he won a starting job going into the 2019 season and started at right guard against Georgia State. He returned to the starting lineup the following month, starting at right guard against Georgia. He missed two games while in concussion protocol, but played off the bench in Tennessee’s final six games of the season as a backup guard and totaled 307 snaps on offense.
Locklear began his senior season in 2020 in a role that saw him line up at tight end in a jumbo package Tennessee used with him and freshman Cooper Mays early in the season. But he suffered his season-ending injury against Georgia and underwent surgery a couple weeks later last October. Locklear totaled just 16 snaps on offense in 2020.
With Locklear retiring, Tennessee has just seven players remaining from its 2017 signing class, the program’s final under Butch Jones: Defensive linemen LaTrell Bumphus and Matthew Butler, tight end Princeton Fant, linebacker Solon Page III, defensive backs Theo Jackson and Cheyenne Labruzza and offensive lineman K’Rojhn Calbert.
Tennessee opens preseason practice on Wednesday.