Vols react to Morley news

The dismissal of senior safety Demetrice Morley from Tennessee's football team left one fellow defensive back shocked, while another didn't seem at all surprised.

All-American Eric Berry, who played strong safety to Morley's free safety last fall, was at a loss for words when informed of the disciplinary action following Tuesday's practice.

"It pretty much hurt," Berry told a circle of reporters. "I really didn't know he was dismissed until you all came up and asked me. I really don't know what to say about that. It's a big loss for me. For me, playing with him was fun but I don't know what to say."

A Freshman All-SEC pick as a Vol reserve in 2005, Morley started 10 games as a sophomore in 2006, sat out the 2007 season as an academic casualty, then started 11 of 12 games in 2008. He was a superior talent who could've been a superstar if he'd reached his potential.

"It is a big hit," Berry said, "but we kinda got to move on, get things straight with us and make sure we're ready for the season. I hate that he got released from the team and stuff like that but I don't know ..."

Whereas Berry seemed shocked by Morley's fate, sophomore cornerback C. J. Fleming did not. He saw this coming back in February, when Morley got on the wrong side of assistant head coach Ed Orgeron.

"Back when we started morning runs a couple of months ago, he missed a lot of team runs," Fleming said of Morley. "Then he was suspended indefinitely for a while. That's when I kinda figured it out. Him and Coach Orgeron never really got together. It was always kind of like a big thing with them two."

In spite of his disdain for discipline, Morley was a flashy and sometimes excellent football player. As a result, his loss is no small matter.

"It's real big with a talent like Demetrice. Everybody knows he's probably the best closer on the ball we've got," Fleming said, adding that if he had to pinpoint the Vol with the most "flat-out, natural, raw defensive back skills, it would've been him."

Still, the Vols may be better without Morley, especially in terms of team chemistry.

"Demetrice is one of my better friends, but it's probably better for everybody, as far as a family thing," Fleming said, noting that it's discouraging "when somebody don't want to show up at practice, don't want to come to meetings, but (thinks) when they get out there it's their (starting) spot."

For all of his flaws, Morley is a charismatic guy with a lot of friends on the team. Naturally, they wish him well.

"My blessings go out to him," Fleming said. "I hope Demetrice can change his life up. But that's about it."


Inside Tennessee Top Stories