Hunter returns to practice field for Vols

Tuesday was a day of relief for the Tennessee coaching staff. True freshman four-star wide receiver Justin Hunter gained his clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse. After missing eight days of practice, Hunter is still expected to see action against UT Martin this weekend. Go "Inside" for the latest.

New Tennessee Head Football Coach Derek Dooley is all about teaching life lessons to his team.

The first-year Vol Coach acknowledged Tuesday afternoon that he and his coaching staff learned a very important lesson recently.

Justin Hunter, a true freshman four-star wide receiver, practiced 14 days with his team before being pulled off the field by the NCAA Clearinghouse, which questioned an online course that he had taken.

Hunter had been admitted already to the University of Tennessee, and the course apparently didn't come in question.

Hunter missed eight days of practice while waiting on a final decision by the NCAA, a ruling that was handed down Tuesday morning.

""We had no control over the situation," Dooley said. "That's always a lesson that you can't worry about things you can't control. So make the best of it," Dooley told the media Tuesday after practice.

Dooley and staff used the eight days that Hunter missed on the practice field to triple his rehab efforts on a nagging but non-serious injury to his foot.

"He was a little bit hurt in the foot, so we took it as an opportunity to triple the treatment," Dooley said. "You saw the boot on him. You just find how you can turn this into a positive, and that's what he did. He handled it great."

Dooley was concerned that Hunter might be a little out of shape, but wasn't disappointed by his performance Tuesday.

"Usually on your first day back you are a ball of energy," Dooley said. "Then all of a sudden, you realize, ‘Am I still in good shape?' I hope it won't be too big of a setback but we will see. He'll be ready for Saturday. I don't know how much."

Dooley did say that Hunter will be ready for action this weekend against UT Martin.

"I was most concerned about his being in shape, but we have tightened down the game plan a little bit and he has been looking it over I am sure," Dooley said.

How did Hunter respond to the news of his clearance?

"It was a huge relief," Dooley said. "There were a lot of nervous coaches. We were confident all along that he was going to be cleared. It was just a question of when."

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