Tennessee dismisses WR Howard from team for rules violation
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee wide receiver Alton ”Pig” Howard has been dismissed from the team for a violation of unspecified team rules.
Volunteers coach Butch Jones announced Howard’s dismissal on Wednesday.
”It’s unfortunate, but we have to continue to move forward,” Jones said. ”We have very high standards and expectations in our football program.”
Howard had 54 catches for 618 yards last season, but he had only one reception for eight yards this year while playing in just two games.
Howard was suspended from a season-opening victory over Bowling Green due to a violation of team rules. He missed the Vols’ last two games because of a concussion.
”It’s definitely a big loss,” senior safety Brian Randolph said. ”He’s a very talented guy, a fun guy to be around. It’s a big week for us and we can’t let any distractions in, so we’re all just focusing on Georgia.”
Tennessee (2-3, 0-2 SEC) is hosting the 19th-ranked Bulldogs (4-1, 1-1) on Saturday.
Howard’s dismissal is the latest blow for a receiving corps that has lacked production this season. Tennessee doesn’t have a single wideout with more than 12 catches or 117 yards receiving. The Vols’ leading receiver is tight end Ethan Wolf with 12 catches for 157 yards.
Jones remained upbeat about his wideouts Wednesday and called them ”a prideful group.” Jones praised Josh Smith for his practice performance and the way he’s mentored quarterback-turned-receiver Jauan Jennings. Jones added that Josh Malone has ”been a model of consistency” and that Von Pearson ”has done some good things in practice.”
”They have had some good practices,” Jones said. ”They have done some good things in the games, but I think it is just an overall level of consistency in our throw game. We talk about it every week. It is not one particular position group.”
Howard, a senior from Orlando, Florida, had 112 career catches for 1,068 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 49 carries for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
Howard had taken what the team described as a ”leave of absence” before the 2014 season to deal with unspecified ”personal circumstances.” Jones said at the time that Howard had ”prerequisites and requirements that must be met” to be able to play that season.
But he returned for the start of that year’s training camp and led the Vols in catches and yards receiving in 2014. Jones praised Howard last season for his improved maturity and consistency.
NOTES: Jones said that ”as of right now,” the Vols anticipate defensive end Kyle Phillips playing against Georgia. Jones had said Monday that Phillips would miss the game due to a shoulder injury. … Jones also says he expects wide receiver Marquez North and offensive guard Dylan Wiesman to play Saturday. Wiesman hurt his foot last week in a 24-20 loss to Arkansas. North missed the Arkansas game with lower back stiffness. … Jones said offensive tackle Brett Kendrick ”has been limited” with an unspecified injury, leaving his status uncertain for Saturday’s game.