It didn’t take long for adversity to strike during the Josh Heupel era at Tennessee. Just a few weeks into the job, Heupel was faced with an off-field incident involving four of his younger players. Linebackers Aaron Willis, Martavius French along with quarterback Kaidon Salter and defensive lineman Isaac Washington were arrested on misdemeanor drug charges.
The four players were suspended indefinitely, and Washington and French have opted to enter the transfer portal since. All four players missed all of spring practice as a result.
There was some hope that Tennessee would be able to get them back before the end of spring practice, but that never happened. As the situation continues to drag on, Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel gave an update on Tuesday via 99.1 The Sports Animal.
“Those guys are currently in the process of just earning their way back inside of our program,” Heupel said. “There’s a standard of what it means to be a student here at the University of Tennessee. There’s a standard of what it means to represent this football program and this athletic department. Our kids are going to live right, do right. That’s on the field, that’s off the field, but we also understand that kids are going to make mistakes and you give them an opportunity to grow, and look forward to those guys going through that process here during the course of the summer.” (H/T GoVols247)
We all wanted to see Salter get a piece of the action at quarterback, but the biggest losses of the spring were French and Willis. You can also toss in Aaron Beasley to that conversation, who was suspended after being accused of abusing a kitten. Those three losses created a huge numbers issue at middle linebacker for Tennessee, which helped create the addition of former Texas linebacker Juwan Mitchell.
Individual workouts begin on June 1st. We’ll see if the suspended trio remaining — Salter, Beasley and Willis — are able to rejoin team activities at some point this offseason ahead of camp in August.