The first week of September, I reported Estelle and Desmond Harrison told Charlie Strong they had a problem with substance abuse/addiction, and Strong went the extra mile of getting them into rehab supervised by UT personnel.
The two were separated from the rest of the team and have not been practicing while going through a substance abuse/addiction program. But they were allowed to remain on scholarship, which had to be cleared through UT administrators because, technically, for the scholarship contract to be honored, a student-athlete has to be actively participating in their sport.
I was told Harrison and Estelle would both be out six weeks (starting the first week of September) while undergoing rehab. If everything went successfully, they could return to the team with a possible return to the field in October.
Sources close to the situation told HornsDigest Tuesday Estelle violated the terms of his rehab program, leading to his dismissal from the team by Charlie Strong. If Estelle truly has a substance abuse/addiction problem, then you hope he can get his life together and get the help he needs.
Those inside the program said Estelle's attitude toward football just deteriorated over the past couple years - that he seemed more interested in trying to start a rap career than spend the time necessary to improve on the football field.
Sources told HD there was serious doubt inside the program before the season about if Estelle and Daje Johnson could make it through fall camp and into the season without another team rules violation. There was thought that Harrison would get it together, because he tends to follow the behavior of the people he's around. And it appeared Harrison was on the right track.
We'll see how things end up for Desmond Harrison and Daje Johnson, who will be suspended for their fourth game this season when Texas plays at Kansas on Saturday at 3 pm CT. But it's over for Estelle. A redshirt season remains a possibility for both Harrison and Johnson.
Multiple sources told HornsDigest on Sept. 4 both Harrison and Estelle, projected starters at offensive tackle, had committed team rules violations involving substance abuse that called for automatic dismissal under university policy for student-athletes. Estelle, who had 9 career starts, played in the season opener against North Texas Aug. 30. Harrison has yet to play in a game this season.
But before the university dismissed Harrison and Estelle for good, Strong wanted to allow them to maintain their scholarships at UT while they went to school and also went through rehab. And Strong got his wish.
The players were told they'd have nothing to do with football team activities for the next 6 weeks while they went to class and went to rehab, sources said.
"Charlie expended some of his political capital on this," one source close to the situation said. "The school was ready to dismiss these two (Harrison and Kennedy) for repeated violations of school policies.
"But Charlie fought for these kids. So they will have nothing to do with football for the next six weeks. They will continue to go to school and try to get their lives in order," the source said.
With LB Deoundrei Davis being dismissed from the team earlier this month (for breaking a non-drug test related core value, sources said), Strong has dismissed 9 players from the team since the spring: FB Chet Moss, S Leroy Scott, WR Kendall Sanders, WR Montrel Meander, RB Joe Bergeron, RB Jalen Overstreet, S Chevoski Collins, Davis and Estelle.
Sanders and Meander were charged with raping a co-ed in Meander's dorm room during the summer. Sanders faces an additional charge of improper photography. Strong didn't wait for the legal process before dismissing both.
Senior safety Josh Turner was suspended for the first two games of the season but returned to action in Game 3 against UCLA.
A lot of the dismissals have been related to failed drug tests, sources said. The school has a drug policy for student-athletes that calls for counseling after the first failed test and dismissal after the third failed test.
Drug tests at UT are administered by a staff independent of any single sport's medical personnel. When a student-athlete has a third failed test, it goes to the UT athletic director and president's office and dismissal proceedings begin. In some of the previous instances, Strong may have recommended when a drug test should be administered to players, sources told HD.
Strong has a list of five core values that have become well known as a result of all the player dismissals. Those core values are 1) Honesty 2) Treat women with respect 3) No drugs 4) No stealing 5) No guns.
"If a young man doesn't want to be part of this program, just go break a core value," Strong said earlier this year.
In the instance of Harrison and Estelle, I'm told, the players acknowledged to UT officials they have a substance abuse problem and sought to go to rehab.
Sources said Strong argued that instead of dismissing them, sending Harrison and Estelle back to the streets, where they could fall through the cracks, that they instead be allowed to remain in school and go through rehab.
A similar situation occurred for former RB Chet Moss under coach Mack Brown, sources told HD. Moss went through rehab while at Texas, ultimately regained his standing on the football team but then relapsed in the spring of this year, leading to his dismissal from the team under Strong, sources told HD.
Sources told HornsDigest that RB Joe Bergeron was dismissed after a third failed drug test but was not given the chance to go to rehab.
Sources told HD Harrison and Estelle admitted they had a problem and wanted treatment, while Bergeron did not. Those sources said Bergeron argued that his third failed test - leading to his dismissal - was inaccurate. The validity of Bergeron's failed test, however, was upheld by the school. Bergeron has since transferred to Division II Texas A&M Commerce, where he is playing this season.