Roster turnover is a part of college football, and today the Vols announced that four players would not be with the team during spring practice (KNS). Redshirt freshman Ted Meline withdrew from the university for personal reasons, and junior Jerod Askew was dismissed for disciplinary reasons; neither had contributed to the program on the field. Senior Cody Pope, who started at center last year before suffering a stinger-type injury that never fully healed, has also left the team.
But the biggest and most unique situation also belongs to Tennessee's best defensive player. Junior safety Janzen Jackson has withdrawn from the university for the spring semester, and returned home to Louisiana. Derek Dooley today reaffirmed that Jackson is dealing with "deep personal issues" that the head coach would not elaborate on. Jackson missed part of Tennessee's bowl preparation for the same issue.
Withdrawing from school means Jackson will miss spring practice, though Dooley clearly left the door open for his return:
"His leaving for bowl practice was not a punishment, and as long as he continues to manage his personal issues and football and school, he’s going to be welcomed back in the program," Dooley said. "He’s clearly reached a point where the personal issues have become much greater than his ability to manage workouts and school.
"Until he gets a little clarity on those issues, we’re going to support him."
The NCAA allows a student to miss one semester one time and return to school the following semester with no penalty, so Jackson could still be in orange this fall. This situation is clearly unique and clearly personal - speculation will run wild on what exactly Jackson is dealing with, but until he chooses to speak to the matter himself, it will remain speculation and nothing more.
Dooley did also announce that Art Evans, a senior corner, had resumed working with the team. Evans was suspended last year after starting at corner in September and October for an off-the-field issue regarding a car payment.
Meline and Askew were highly touted recruits that never panned out. Pope, even if healthy, would've probably played behind James Stone at center. We certainly wish them the best, and the same with Janzen Jackson - though we'd all love to see him back in orange this fall, Dooley's words suggest there is something very real going on with him. Here's hoping he gets it resolved - for our sake, but more importantly, for his.