Marlin Lane

UT, Vols the subject of federal sexual violence investigation

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You can add Tennessee to the growing number of universities who are the focus of a federal investigation connected to allegations of improper responses to reports of on- and off-campus sexual assaults.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), The Tennessean is reporting, has launched an investigation into sexual violence at UT. The investigation, the paper stated, commenced on June 29.

In an email sent to faculty, staff and students, chancellor Jimmy Cheek vowed that the university “will cooperate fully with [the] OCR as it investigates the complaint.”

Over the past several months, it’s been reported across multiple media platforms that three Vols football players have been connected to sexual assault allegations while they were still members of the football team.

Following an investigation by local law enforcement that began in November of last year, then-current UT cornerback Michael Wil liams and former UT linebacker A.J. Johnson were indicted in mid-February by a Knox County grand jury on two counts each of aggravated rape.  Both pleaded not guilty a month later, although Johnson had already seen his invitation to the NFL combine rescinded while it was reported in June that the Vols had “moved on” from Williams.

According to reports that surfaced in mid-November, a 19-year-old UT student claimed that Johnson and Williams raped her at the former’s residence in a Knoxville apartment complex. The unnamed woman claimed that the assault lasted 45 minutes, and occurred during the course of a party being held following UT’s win over Kentucky.

Another 19-year-old woman claimed she was sexually assaulted at the same location around the same time by Williams.

The first woman was treated at the UT Medical Center. The second alleged victim declined treatment and headed back to her home in Florida. She also initially declined to pursue charges despite claims of being sexually assaulted, but did cooperate with the grand jury.

Then, in late April of this year, reports surfaced that wide receiver Von Pearson was a suspect in the investigation of an alleged rape.  Pearson has been indefinitely suspended by head coach Butch Jones, although no charges have been filed and no arrests made in connection to the alleged sexual assault.

Those are the three that have been well-publicized and chronicled; according to The Tennessean, however, there are three other Vols football players who were on the roster in 2014 who have been accused of sexual assault.

In April of 2013, running back Marlin Lane, whose eligibility expired after the 2014 season, was on the receiving end of what turned out to be a two-month suspension that was attributed to “disciplinary reasons.” The paper writes that “Lane… was named as a suspect in the rape of an 18-year-old high school student in Lane’s dorm room on April 9, 2013,” four days before his suspension. No charges were filed after the alleged victim declined to pursue the case.

In February of this year, Riyahd Jones, who was on the team in 2014 but is no longer a part of the team, was named as a suspect in a sexual assault that was reported to the Knoxville police. The Tennessean writes that “[n]o charges have been filed, and police have declined to provide a copy of the full police report, saying that the district attorney’s office could still decide to pursue charges.”

The last of the sixth is explained by the paper thusly:

In September a football player was named in a sexual assault complaint made to university officials by a freshman woman, according to an internal university investigation and emails from university officials obtained by The Tennessean. University officials investigated the case and issued a finding that no assault occurred and the incident was instead consensual sex. The player remains in good standing on the team. The Tennessean is not naming the football player because he has not been publicly accused and no police report was filed.

In addition to UT, Florida State and Vanderbilt are the subject of federal investigations into how they handled reports of sexual assault. Both of those probes are in part connected to the football programs at the respective universities.

Vols throttling Hawkeyes through two quarters

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The Big Ten may indeed be “back,” but it doesn’t mean the entire conference has bought into that current train of thought.

Case in point?  Iowa, which is currently in the process of getting boot-stomped by Tennessee, trailing the young Vols 35-7 at halftime of the TaxSlayer Bowl.  UT, playing in front of what’s essentially a home crowd in Jacksonville, has looked a step — or more — quicker than their Big Ten counterparts in every phase of the game ion setting a TaxSlayer Bowl record for points in a half.

The Vols jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead, outgaining the Hawkeyes 205-69.  UT finished the half with 321 yards of offense; Iowa came into the game 18th in the country by allowing 334.6 yards per game.

Overall, UT scored on its first four possessions, with its first punt not coming until midway through the second quarter.  The Vols then scored on the possession after that, its last of the half.

UT ran for 191 yards in the half, led by Jalen Hurd‘s 97 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.  A running back also got in on the passing attack, with Marlin Lane throwing a 49-yard scoring toss on the back-end of a double-pass play.

Josh Dobbs, who has led the Vols to a 3-1 record since taking over as the starting quarterback, completed 11 of 12 of his pass attempts, throwing one touchdown pass at the end of the half that pushed the lead back out to 35-7.  Dobbs also ran for a score.

Iowa’s lone drive into the red zone came late in the half, and even that was aided by UT mistakes.  A holding penalty on the Vols negated an interception that would’ve given UT possession in Iowa territory.  That drive was capped off by a Marc Weisman three-yard touchdown run that accounted for Iowa’s lone points of the half.

The Hawkeyes were held to just 153 first-half yards, with 61 of those yards coming on that final drive.

Vols’ leading rusher cited for underage consumption

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Unbelievably, there was a (gasp!) underage college student caught consuming alcohol a couple of weeks ago.  Even more unbelievable?  He was a football player!

That said, The Tennessean reported Wednesday night that Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd was cited Dec. 3 for underage drinking.  The 18-year-old Hurd, along with another male, were arrested by UT police, with one of the two transported to a local hospital.

Which one of the two was transported, though, is unknown.

Hurd, 18, and Hunter Rivait, who is listed as a student in a university student directory, were arrested by citation on Dec. 3 after police spotted a car with its lights on in a university dorm parking garage. Police found an unconscious male inside.

The initial University of Tennessee police report does not identify the unconscious male, who was later transported to a hospital.

UT officials said Hurd has been disciplined internally and will play against Iowa in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl.

As a true freshman in 2014, Hurd led the Vols with 777 yards rushing.  The next-closest back was Marlin Lane and his 279 yards.

Lane Kiffin wins return to Neyland Stadium, No. 4 Tide tops Tennessee 34-20

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No. 4 Alabama built a nearly insurmountable lead first half lead and coasted from there, turning a 27-0 early lead into a 34-20 victory over Tennessee Saturday night in Neyland Stadium.

Lane Kiffin‘s much-hyped return to Knoxville quieted the Tennessee crowd from the opening snap, as Alabama scored on its first play from scrimmage with an 80-yard pass from Blake Sims to Amari Cooper. The Tide followed that up with touchdown drives of 79 and 90 yards, grabbing a 20-0 lead. By the time Alabama got the ball with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter, Tennessee had punted four times and saw itself get out-gained 249-78.

After forcing a Joshua Dobbs fumble deep in Volunteer territory and turning it into a 28-yard Blake Sims touchdown run to push the lead to 27-0 three minutes into the second quarter it seemed the Tide was ready avalanche Tennessee the same way it did Texas A&M last week.

But then Tennessee rallied.

The Vols responded with a 10-play, 84-yard touchdown drive to get on the board, and closed the half with a long field goal drive to pull within 27-10 at the break.

Tennessee mounted another long touchdown drive in the third quarter to pull within 27-17, but Derrick Henry put the game away with a 28-yard touchdown jaunt with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.

In the end, Tennessee never pulled within closer than 10 points, but it didn’t pack up shop when things got tough. Tennessee is a program long on moral victories and impatient for actual victories, but the Vols got better tonight.

For one, Dobbs has the makings of being a solution at quarterback. He hit 19-of-32 passes for 192 yards for two touchdowns and one interceptions and led the club in rushing with 19 carries for 75 yards. Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane combined for 107 yards on 19 carries, and Tennessee nearly matched Alabama yard-for-yard on the ground, 183 to 181.

Still, the combination of Sims to Cooper was too much for Tennessee. Sims was 14-of-24 for 286 yards and two touchdowns, and Cooper caught nine of those passes for 224 yards and both touchdowns. Only six players touched the ball for Alabama tonight: Sims, Cooper, Henry (16 carries, 78 yards and the touchdown), T.J. Yeldon (14 carries, 52 yards and a touchdown, one catch for three yards), DeAndrew White (four grabs for 59 yards, one rush for a loss of one) and Jaiston Fowler (two carries for 24 yards).

In all, Kiffin’s offense produced 34 points, 23 first downs, 469 yards of total offense and a cool 11-of-15 mark on third down.

Alabama (7-1, 4-1 SEC) will take next week off before preparing for a trip to No. 24 LSU on Nov. 8, which happens to be its final road game of the season. Tennessee, 3-5, winless in SEC play and weary from playing four Top 12 teams in eight games, will visit South Carolina next week and, deservedly, closes with four games against unranked opponents.

Tennessee should get RB Marlin Lane back for South Carolina game

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Tennessee got some good news on Tuesday when it learned that running back Marlin Lane should return to play against South Carolina this Saturday.

Lane missed the Vols’ last game against Georgia due to a foot injury, but he practice during the bye week. The junior is second on the team with 280 yards and four touchdowns on 45 carries.  He had 658 yards and two touchdowns in 2012.

South Carolina has struggled at times stopping the run, so Lane’s return comes at a good time — the strength of the Tennessee offense is its ground game.

Tennessee also found out on Tuesday that it will likely not enjoy the services of linebacker Curt Maggitt this season. The junior tore his anterior cruciate ligament last November but head coach Butch Jones said he wasn’t expected to play this year.