Dan Fleser: Step On The Face Keeps Jennings Out Of First Half Of Bowl Game

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - by Dan Fleser

KNOXVILLE – The SEC has suspended Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings for the first half of the Vols’ bowl game because of an incident that occurred during Saturday’s 28-10 victory over Vanderbilt.

Jennings stepped on the face of Commodores punt returner Justice Shelton-Mosley late in the fourth quarter. Jennings had tackled Shelton-Mosley and the two players slid into UT’s bench. Shelton-Mosley lost his helmet and Jennings stepped on him while scrambling to his feet.

There was no penalty called on the play but the conference office’s statement on Wednesday said, “The suspension is consistent with NCAA Football Playing Rule 9-6-2 which states, “If subsequent review of a game by a conference reveals plays involving flagrant personal fouls that game officials did not call, the conference may impose sanctions prior to the next scheduled game.”

UT athletic director Phillip Fulmer released a statement saying that he and conference commissioner Greg Sankey had a “long conversation” about the matter and that Tennessee would “honor the suspension.”  

Cordial transfers: Tennessee is even getting better regarding players transferring out of the program.

Remember when former Vols wide receiver Jordan Murphy retweeting a taunting tweet about UT’s season-opening loss to Georgia State before leaving? This week, offensive linemen Ryan Johnson and Marcus Tatum both lauded the football program and their experiences at UT in announcing on social media that they were submitting their names to the transfer portal as graduate transfers.

“This has been an incredible ride,” Johnson wrote. “I am extremely proud of our school, our football program, my teammates and my effort I gave my university every day on and off the field. Please know that I love the University and will always be a VFL.”

Johnson, who had 16 career starts entering the season, started just three times in 2019. He has a degree in civil engineering and was working on a master’s in structural engineering.

Tatum also had three starts this season and eight for his career. He also wrote that he always will be a VFL and thanked coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff for “truly helping us become not just better players but also better men.”

“There is no bad blood and nothing bad between me and the coaches,” he wrote. “It has been a mutual situation and they have been great in helping me every step of the way. They want what is best for me as much as I do.”

Gray honored: Tennessee running Eric Gray was honored as the SEC’s freshman of the week after rushing for 246 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt. The rushing total was a single-game record for a first-year player at UT. His 94-yard touchdown run was the second longest run from scrimmage in program history.

Gray showed a big-play ability that the Vols have been yearning for from a running back. Ty Chandler had an 81-yard touchdown run against UTEP last season.

“That’s a dream of mine – to be backed up like that and to take it 94 yards,” Gray said of his long TD run. “That’s always been a dream of mine and it’s just a blessing to be able to do it.”

* * *

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri who covered University of Tennessee athletics for the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1988-2019. He may be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com


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