Coaching the problem child

Several Tennessee football players through the years have spent more time in the doghouse than Smokey the Bluetick Coonhound. Sign in or subscribe now for a recap.

Tennessee wide receiver Da' Rick Rogers is in distinguished company. Some of the highest-profile players in Vol football history also wore a "problem child" tag at one point or another.

Frank Emanuel, for instance. The native of Newport News, Va., was unceremoniously kicked off the squad by head coach Doug Dickey in November of 1964. Emanuel got his act together, however, worked his way back onto team in '65 and played so well that he (1) made All-America, (2) got his face on the cover of Sports Illustrated and (3) went on to play five seasons of pro ball.

Unfortunately for Tennessee, Emanuel was the exception rather than the rule. Most of the guys who routinely committed the ever-popular "violation of team rules" wound up leaving the program prematurely.

Here's a brief history lesson that covers the past three decades or so:

Hubert Simpson worked his way to No. 1 fullback in '79, sharing the ball-carrying chores with tailback James Berry. Simpson averaged 5.0 yards per carry en route to 792 yards that season, with four rushing touchdowns against Notre Dame. Unfortunately for the Vols, he spent as much time in head coach Johnny Majors' doghouse as he did in the huddle. Simpson was dismissed prior to the 1980 season after testing Majors' patience one time too many.

Reggie Cobb appeared headed for greatness after rushing for 1,197 yards and 17 TDs as a redshirt freshman in 1987. He ran for 547 yards in an injury-plagued '88 season, then got off to a great start in '89. Averaging 6.8 yards per carry on his way to 616 yards through five games, he was dismissed for a failed substance test. To his credit, he cleaned up his act and went on to play eight seasons in the NFL.

Chuck Webb, probably the most gifted rusher in program history, overcame an assortment of off-field issues to make All-SEC as a redshirt freshman tailback in 1989. That season saw him post the two most productive rushing performances in Vol history — 294 yards versus Ole Miss, 250 versus Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry that fall en route to 1,236 yards and 12 TDs. Webb ran for 156 yards and three TDs before tearing his ACL five quarters into the 1990 season. He renounced his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility in favor of a pro career that never panned out due to lingering knee problems.

Wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers would be best served to learn from the mistakes of others.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
Ultra-talented Dustin Moore caught nine passes for 100 yards after switching from defensive end to tight end midway through his freshman season of 1995. He added 18 receptions for 201 yards in '96 but was dismissed prior to the '97 season after several failed substance tests.

Though stuck behind future NFL standouts Jamal Lewis and Travis Henry, freshman Onterrio Smith turned heads by averaging 6.1 yards per carry en route to 189 yards in 1999. A true problem child, however, he was dismissed from the team after just one season. Smith resurrected his career with some great years at Oregon but repeated substance problems short-circuited a once-promising NFL career.

Lynn McGruder was a 5-star defensive tackle signee who lettered as a freshman reserve in 2000. Booted from the Vol program for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute (a charge later dropped), he transferred to Oklahoma and started as a senior. He then bounced around the NFL for several years.

Parade All-American James Banks completed 17 of 31 passes for 277 yards and ran for another 63 yards as a backup quarterback in 2002. Moved to wide receiver, he caught a team-best 42 passes for 621 yards and 6 TDs in 2003. Dismissed after repeated rules violations, Banks finished up his career at nearby Carson-Newman College.

Five-star linebacker Daniel Brooks was supposed to be the next Al Wilson. Unlike his fellow Jackson native, Brooks had a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. After recording 4 stops as a reserve linebacker in 2003 and 7 stops as a backup defensive end in 2004, he was dismissed prior to the 2005 season for his involvement in a fight which, ironically, he did not start.

LaMarcus Coker posted two of the four longest scrimmage runs in Vol history as a redshirt freshman in 2006 — bolting 89 yards versus Marshall and 87 versus Vanderbilt. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry that season en route to 696 rushing yards. An electrifying multi-purpose threat, he also averaged 26.7 yards on 21 kickoff returns and 12.9 yards on 13 receptions that fall. Coker was dismissed seven games into the '07 season after a failed substance test and resurfaced at Hampton University.

Blessed with the talent to star at wide receiver or cornerback, Brent Vinson was arguably the finest athlete on Tennessee's roster in 2007, 2008 and 2009. He routinely was in trouble of one kind or another, however. An occasional starter at cornerback, he wound up being dismissed prior to the 2010 season.

Rated the No. 1 safety prospect in America as a high school senior, Demetrice Morley recorded 44 stops as a sophomore starter in 2006, then flunked out and had to spend '07 at Pellissippi State. He returned to UT and started at safety in '08, only to be dismissed in the spring of 2009.

Janzen Jackson exploded onto the scene as a true freshman in 2009, recording 37 stops, an interception and some bone-jarring hits as Tennessee's starting free safety. After mysteriously leaving the program for several months, he was dismissed during preseason drills of 2010 following a failed substance test.


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