Tennessee’s football team continues to explore ways to make a positive difference in the country’s journey toward racial equality.
Led by head coach Jeremy Pruitt, the Vols’ first steps last month involved a virtual call with coaches and players during which players were given a chance to communicate their experiences with racism so all of their teammates can better understand the situation.
On June 5, Pruitt and about 10 players joined a peaceful protest in Knoxville and took the stage in Market Square to speak to fellow protesters about what needs to happen to limit racism.
The team has taken it to another level in the two weeks since then, Pruitt said during a virtual call with reporters on Thursday afternoon.
The Vols have created a cultural committee led by assistant coach Tee Martin that focuses on things the team can do to create and maintain a supportive environment.
“Absolutely I want to be an advocate of that and support our players and use our platform at Tennessee to help create that,” Pruitt said.
On Thursday, the team began the process of making sure every player is registered to vote. Pruitt said he is already planning a series of speakers for the team once everybody returns to campus.
The Vols even hope to help monetarily. One thing they have considered, Pruitt said, is having the players wear black jerseys in their game against Kentucky, auctioning off those jerseys and donating the proceeds to the organization Black Lives Matter.
“It’s something that is going to continue to be stressed in our staff,” he said. “Tee’s leadership and the guys within our program, there are lots of really good ideas and ways we can help improve and use our platform to create change.”
While college teams around the country have reported modest numbers of players that tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival to campus, Tennessee appears to be virtually untouched by the disease.
Pruitt said Thursday zero players tested positive. The only positive test among players and staff was by a graduate assistant coach. The Vols have been working out for 10 days.
Also on Thursday, Texas announced 13 players had tested positive. Previously, Alabama reported at least five positive tests, and Kansas State reported eight positive tests.
Vols lose a running back
Pruitt said running back Tim Jordan has been kicked off the team following his arrest last month in Florida.
According to the Associated Press, detectives on May 30 reportedly saw a vehicle speeding and swerving into the bicycle lane. Jordan was pulled over, and police found a gun and marijuana in his car.
He was released on $2,000 bond after being arrested.
Jordan would have been a senior this season. He finished third on the team with 428 rushing yards in 12 games last season.
Jordan’s dismissal leaves Tennessee with three running backs who have college experience — Ty Chandler, Eric Gray and Carlin Fils-aime.