KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee freshman safety Janzen Jackson, who had charges against him in an attempted armed robbery case dropped Monday, was reinstated to the football team Tuesday.
Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin, during Tuesday media day at Neyland Stadium, said Jackson will start Tennessee's last regular-season game at 7 p.m. Saturday against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky.
Statement from Kiffin:
“As I’ve said before, we wanted to take our time to get all the information regarding this situation. These were very serious allegations, and we had to make sure we handled this properly. After an extensive and thorough investigation by the Knoxville Police Department and the District Attorney’s office, they have cleared Janzen of any wrong doing and determined he had no prior knowledge of this incident. Janzen will join team activities today.
"We hold our student-athletes to an extremely high standard on and off the field. Janzen has seen the effect personal decisions had on his former teammates and is excited to rejoin our team activities.”
KIFFIN'S MEDIA DAY COMMENTS:
"I am going to start, before any questions, by commenting on the Janzen Jackson situation. As I've said before, we wanted to take our time to get all of the information regarding the situation. These were very serious allegations and we had to make sure we handled this properly. After an extensive and thorough investigation by the Knoxville Police Department and the District Attorney's Office, they have cleared Janzen of any wrong doing in this situation and said that he had no prior knowledge of this incident.
"Janzen will join team activities today. As I have said before, we hold our student athletes to an extremely high standard. On and off the field, Janzen has seen the effect that personal decisions had on his former teammates and he is excited to rejoin our team activities.
"Moving toward the game, this is a big-time matchup for us. Kentucky is playing as well as anybody in the conference. Obviously, last week they went into a very tough place to play and were able to beat Georgia. They have already gone down and beaten Auburn at Auburn, so we are going to have our hands full. They are playing extremely well. They are very, very good on defense, especially against the pass -- top 10 in the country, I believe -- and they have a great player in Randall Cobb. We will have our hands full trying to stop him. And going to their place will be extremely tough.''
On Janzen Jackson
"Yes, he will be ready to play. He is a great player for us and we expect him to have a really good week of practice. He will contribute for us on special teams like he has. Janzen Jackson also will start on Saturday.
"Janzen is a very intelligent football player. You can tell by the way he plays and how he is always around the ball and he always knows where it is going. He has had a few weeks off; he will have to get back into the rhythm of practice and the rhythm of the game. I expect him to play really well and thats because he does take football so seriously and he studies it so much. I don't think there will be a drop off.
"He is very relieved. This has been very difficult for him. As I just said, he has been cleared of any wrongdoing or any knowledge of this entire situation happening. Part of you feels bad for him in a way because hes had to go through this. He and his family have had to go through being on Sports Center and his name tagged with this incident and missing the last two games because of this incident. I know he is excited to be back and he is ready to go.
"Having Janzen back does a ton for us on defense and special teams. Janzen is a great player. I think it is very obvious when you look at the stats. When he has not played for us, we've played the worst that we have played on defense all season long. He has missed the last three games, and prior to those last three games we'd given up the fewest explosive plays in the country on defense. Eric Berry is down (in the box) most of the time and Janzen is back in the middle, so when a play breaks, he is always our last line. Weve missed that, and it will be good to have him back.''
On Randall Cobb signing with Kentucky instead of Tennessee
"People always think in recruiting about making your own team better. But if you miss on a guy and he goes within your conference and you dont take him, then its a double-whammy. Not only is he not playing for you, but then you have to play (against) him every season. This is a situation of that, not only would he make us better and be playing for us and scoring touchdowns for us, but also he wouldnt be on their team. You are talking about potentially a 14- to 21-point difference in one player about whether he signed with Tennessee or went to Kentucky.
"He has the ability to make plays. Hes not necessarily the fastest guy; he is not the biggest guy; he is just one of those football savvy players. I have never seen him in high school, but I would just imagine he was the same way. No matter where they put him, no matter when he got the ball, he just made plays. You see it, whether it is catching a pass, taking a snap, or on a handoff or returning. He just has the ability for people to not get him down and just to make plays no matter where he is.''
On the history of this game and getting the first road win of the season
"The history of this series means nothing to this game. I'm sorry, it doesn't. Those players that were playing in that streak aren't here anymore. We are playing a team where their seniors have won just as many games as our seniors. We are playing a team where their seniors have been to more bowl games than our seniors. So we would love to keep it alive only because it is the next game on our schedule and we want to win it and it is a big-time SEC game for us.
"Sorry to say, that has nothing to do with it. This is not the old Kentucky team; you all know that. This is a team that has been 34 years going down to Georgia to win. This is a different Kentucky team and that really has nothing to do with this team.''
(E-mail Stan Crawley at firstname.lastname@example.org)