KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee tailback John Kelly, who has been suspended for the Kentucky game on Saturday, reached out to fans with an apology on his Twitter account Thursday morning.
Minor Setback pic.twitter.com/XWw76ny04j
— Jøhn Kelly ll (JK) (@JKShuttlesworth) October 26, 2017
Embattled Tennessee coach Butch Jones announced Wednesday he has suspended Kelly and freshman linebacker Will Ignont. Ignont was in a car with Kelly when the pair were pulled over with marijuana and a glass pipe stashed in the console.
Kelly, a junior from Detroit who leads the Vols in rushing yardage and pass receptions, was cited for misdemeanor drug possession and not having proof of insurance.
It’s a blow to Tennessee football that could ultimately impact the direction of the program should the Vols not beat Kentucky.
Jones has his back to the wall. He needs to beat the Wildcats to salvage hopes of saving his and the coaching staff’s jobs.
Tennessee is missing several players to injury, including preseason All-SEC candidates MLB Darrin Kirkland Jr. and WR Jauan Jennings.
Kelly has carried a mighty load, accounting for 43 percent of the yards from scrimmage. The Tennessee players looked to Kelly as a leader, doling praise on him at each turn.
Jones, however, went forward with swift punishment for Kelly, explaining his decision on his Wednesday night coach’s show.
“We have very high standards and expectations associated with the University of Tennessee,” Jones said. “We represent something that is bigger than ourselves. We’ll never compromise our standards. It’s very, very unfortunate. We hope that these individuals will learn from it, but we’re never going to compromise our standards here at Tennessee.”