Danny O’Brien

Six Vols out for spring football, six more limited

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Things are looking up for Tennessee and head coach Butch Jones. The Vols just pulled in a highly-respected recruiting class to follow the “brick-by-brick” mantra in Knoxville, and it may just be a matter of time before Tennessee is back to being a force in the SEC East on a regular basis. That said, there will be a good number of players missing or limited during Tennessee’s spring practice schedule.

Defensive ends Derek Barnett and Kyle Phillips, defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and wide receiver Jason Croom are all expected to be out of action this spring, Jones announced on Friday. In addition to that list, Jones suggested tight end Alex Ellis could also be out for the spring.

Croom injured his knee during bowl practices leading up to Tennessee’s match-up with Iowa. Ellis, a senior, was recently awarded a scholarship by Tennessee.

To further deplete the available depth in the spring, Jones also listed a handful of players that could be limited at best this spring. Wide receiver Marquez North, running back Jalen Hurd, offensive lineman Chance Hall, defensive end Corey Vereen, defensive lineman Charles Mosley, linebacker Dillon Bates and cornerback Rashaan Gaulden were those mentioned as limited this spring by the head coach.

North played in 10 games last season and missed playing time due to a shoulder injury. Hurd was Tennessee’s leading rusher in 2014 with 899 yards and five touchdowns.

Bret Bielema takes stance against players using marijuana

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Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has made no secret about his openness to adding transfer players if it means helping his team’s chances to win. Looking back on his time at Wisconsin it was Bielema who added transfer quarterbacks not once, but twice in hopes of giving the Badgers a shot at winning a Big Ten title. One time it worked beautifully with N.C. State transfer Russell Wilson. The other time it did not quite play out as perhaps expected, with Danny O’Brien of Maryland. Bielema likes to go after players with good character, and that stance may not be something that changes anytime at Arkansas.

“Everybody adds players to the program,” Bielema said in a recent radio interview on SportsTalk with Bo Mattingly, as transcribed by 247 Sports. “Especially at Arkansas, when we go after a transfer, we’re going after the highest quality of people. I’m not trying to get a rebound off any law enforcement or drug issues or anything else. We look for high quality.”

The timing of Bielema’s recent comments is worth noting as well. Former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, dismissed by the university this offseason, was officially added to Oklahoma’s roster as a transfer player on Thursday, the same day Bielema appeared on the radio program. DGB’s problems were drug related according to previous reports, and that is something Bielema takes seriously at Arkansas. At a time when the debate on whether or not marijuana should be legalized continues to evolve, Bielema is standing pat on his stance, as he generally does,

“I’ll be honest, just a couple weeks ago, there was a Baylor wide receiver that got into a little trouble [Bielema is referring to Robbie Rhodes, who is no longer with the Baylor program]. The thing he had gone through, we could be his greatest asset, with a strict no use of marijuana, no use of drugs. That’s something I really enforced when I got here, something I firmly believe in.”

“Across the nation, there’s a whole new process about legalizing marijuana,” Bielema said. “If I allow it to happen here, I’m allowing bad behavior to continue that will cost them their career. We’re pretty adherent to that policy.”

Helmet sticker to Saturday Down South.

Tennessee defensive lineman ordered to community service

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Tennessee defensive lineman Danny O’Brien has a deal with the state of Tennessee to have some charges stemming from an arrest last week dropped, but he’ll have to work for it. O’Brien was ordered to 40 hours of community service over the next six months to have charges related to possessing a fake ID, resisting arrest and underage drinking dropped. He must also submit to an alcohol assessment.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, if O’Brien completes his community service and stays out of trouble, all charges will be dropped at his next hearing. That hearing is currently scheduled for August 14. Former linebacker Dontavis Sapp (pictured) will have his charges dropped under similar circumstances as well. Both players had to pay court costs as well as part of the agreements in place.

Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson has a court appearance scheduled for Friday. It seems optimistic he will be able to work a similar agreement.

Earlier this month O’Brien, Sapp and Johnson were among seven football players cited for various alcohol-related offenses after police were called to check on a disturbance at an apartment in Knoxville.

As far as football is concerned, O’Brien and Johnson are still a part of the team, and their position on the roster does not appear to be in great jeopardy. As long as they avoid any other legal troubles, that should remain the case for the Vols.

Four Tennessee players (two current, two former) arrested

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Two current and two former Tennessee players have been arrested in Knox County, Nooga.com revealed on Sunday.

The current players are linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, while the former players are linebacker Dontavis Sapp, who was a senior this past fall, and former walk-on lineman Isaac Mobley, who last played in 2012.

The police report for the incident does not list when or why the four were arrested, but it does list their court dates, which are for Feb. 20 and 21. It was later revealed that the arrests were alcohol related.

“We are aware of the situation and are still in the preliminary stages of gathering all facts and information,” coach Butch Jones said in a statement. “We have very high standards and expectations within our football program at the University of Tennessee, and appropriate action will be taken.”

Johnson is one of Tennessee’s top defenders and is coming off a junior season where he had 106 tackles, including 8.5 for losses. O’Brien had 12 tackles and three tackles for loss as a redshirt freshman this past fall. Sapp started as a a senior, collecting 66 tackles.

Nooga.com says this is the first known legal incident at Tennessee since Jones took over as head coach.

Danny O’Brien goes from Terps to Badgers… to D-II

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Following the 2010 season, Danny O’Brien was named as both a Freshman All-American and the ACC’s Rookie of the Year.

Less than three years later, the former Maryland and Wisconsin quarterback will continue his collegiate playing career, albeit at a much, much lower level to which he’s accustomed.

Speaking to FOXSportsWisconsin.com, O’Brien’s high school coach confirmed that he will continue plying his quarterback wares at Catawba College.  That particular institution competes at the Division II level of the NCAA’s athletic rung.

According to the coach, Todd Willert, the fact that his former player’s new destination is so close to O’Brien’s North Carolina hometown tipped the scales.

“He just wants to go and have some fun and play some football,” Willert said. “I think he’s excited to play back in North Carolina so it’s not so far away from everything. Family and friends and everybody can go watch him in his last year. I think he’s looking forward to that.”

O’Brien will head into Catawba as a fifth-year senior, his final year of eligibility.

After what appeared to be a breakout freshman season, and after Ralph Friedgen was for whatever reason fired as Maryland’s head coach, O’Brien lost his starting job midway through Randy Edsall‘s first season as the Terps’ coach.  In February of last year, O’Brien announced a transfer from Maryland and ultimately landed at Wisconsin.

Starting the 2012 season as the Badgers’ starting quarterback, O’Brien lost his job and, ultimately, announced another transfer in June of this year.