Kentucky football has suffered its first of the year more than a month before the 2013 season begins.
Sophomore running back Josh Clemons is expected to miss the season after suffering an Achilles tendon injury, UK announced on Monday. He'll undergo surgery for the injury soon.
"We are extremely disappointed for Josh because he has worked so hard and come so far," head coach Mark Stoops said in a news release. "He ran well during the spring and was eager to contribute this season. We are hopeful for a full recovery and look forward to his return to the field."
Clemons played the first six games of the 2011 season as a true freshman and won the starting running back job before he suffered a a torn meniscus against South Carolina on Oct. 8. He had rushed for 279 yards and two touchdowns before the injury. His 87-yard touchdown run against Central Michigan was the longest ever by a UK freshman and the fourth-longest in school history.
He hoped to return in time for the 2012 season, but suffered complications in his knee during fall camp and underwent surgery again. He took a redshirt and missed the entire year.
Clemons returned to action during spring practice and participated in contact drills. He said his knee felt "a lot better" and had a strong showing in Kentucky's Blue/White game. He rushed 10 times for 56 yards and had two catches.
"It's probably the best I've felt in a long time," Clemons said during spring practice.
He hasn't played in game action in 20 months, and it will be more than two full years between his last game if he returns in time for the 2014 season.
Kentucky returns its top two rushers from last season, but has two more running backs since the end of spring practice. Redshirt freshman Justin Taylor transferred at the end of the semester, and incoming freshman Khalid Thomas, an athlete who could have played running back, was dismissed last week. Senior Raymond Sanders led UK with 669 rushing yards and five touchdowns last year, while Jonathan George had 504 yards and four touchdowns.