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Dismisses a TE; suspends Johnson
By CHRIS LOW
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee freshman tight end Lee Smith found out the hard way Wednesday what Coach Phillip Fulmer meant by a zero-tolerance policy. Fulmer, who had thrown down the gauntlet to his players about off-the-field issues, dismissed Smith from the team following his arrest by UT police earlier that morning on a drunken driving charge. Police observed Smith driving his truck on a sidewalk near the UT football complex.
Smith, who signed with the Vols in February and was already enrolled in summer school, wasn't the only one to feel Fulmer's wrath. Redshirt freshman defensive back Marsalous Johnson was suspended for the first four games. The former Smyrna High star was arrested and charged with felony aggravated assault on Sunday night after an off-duty Putnam County Sheriff's Department deputy said Johnson waved a plastic pellet gun at him on Interstate 40 near
The two arrests this week come on the eve of preseason practice beginning Friday for the Vols, just the kind of distraction Fulmer was hoping to avoid. And after a quiet offseason following the onslaught of arrests leading up to the 2005 season, the police blotter hall of a sudden has taken on an orange tint again. In the last three months, there have been five incidents involving UT football players, including four arrests.
In addition to his four-game suspension, Johnson will be required to move back into the dorm and return his car to his home, as well as performing 50 hours of community service. Johnson will practice with the scout team during his suspension.
"Any reinstatement of Marsalous depends on his attitude and demonstration of accountability," Fulmer said.
Even before his arrest on DUI, Smith was already under scrutiny as part of a Knox County Schools investigation. A Powell High assistant principal, Kimberly Kallenberg, was suspended while school officials investigate claims she had a sexual relationship with a student athlete and tampered with students' grades. Smith signed an affidavit saying he never had a sexual and/or any improper relationship with Kallenberg, who also denies the charges. "I have great respect for the Smith family and for Daryle as a former Volunteer," Fulmer said. "It is my sincere hope that this will be an opportunity for Lee to mature and get his life in order."