Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced on Friday afternoon that running back/linebacker Jeremy Banks has been removed from UT’s football team.
The announcement comes just days after a video of Banks’ arrest in September was released. Banks was seen in the video using disparaging remarks toward police officers.
Pruitt said earlier this week that the situation was being handled “internally”.
Something, however, happened that led to a change of heart for Pruitt.
The statement released by Pruitt on Friday referenced new information.
Pruitt’s statement on Banks pic.twitter.com/SYr6UTM6rb
— zach ragan (@zachTNT) October 4, 2019
It’s unclear what the new information is, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s made public in the coming days.
As for Pruitt, I think his decision to remove Banks for the team should earn him some trust with the Vol fan base.
Linebacker is one of Tennessee’s thinnest positions on the field. In fact, the lack of depth is why Banks was playing linebacker instead of running back, which is his preferred position.
It’s reasonable to suggest that cutting Banks loose could cost Tennessee a win this season (a close game could certainly be decided by linebacker depth).
But Pruitt made what he believes is the correct choice. He did his best to be there for Banks during the arrest. And his first reaction wasn’t to boot Banks from the team. I fully believe that Pruitt’s initial decision to keep Banks on the team wasn’t because of Tennessee’s linebacker depth. I believe he wanted to keep Banks on the team because he didn’t want to give up on a kid.
Unfortunately, whatever new information Pruitt received was bad enough that keeping Banks on the team couldn’t be justified.
Pruitt showed a lot of character in the way he handled the situation. Sure, the audio of Pruitt talking to officers isn’t exactly flattering (though I had a bit of a different view on the situation), but I think it showed us a coach that wants to be there for his players in tough situations.
At the same time, however, Pruitt proved to fans that he’s not letting players have free reign. They still have to be accountable for their actions.
And Pruitt held Banks accountable, regardless of how much it hurt the team.
That’s a tough choice to make, but Pruitt did the right thing. Fans should respect him for it.
Featured image via Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports