published Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Warren gone

Ex-Alcoa star kicked off Vols team


by Wes Rucker
Audio clip

Lane Kiffin

KNOXVILLE -- The latest public player outburst sparked by Tennessee's fledgling passing attack had serious consequences.

Junior receiver Brandon Warren has been dismissed from the program, coach Lane Kiffin said after Monday night's practice.

Kiffin said Warren, a former Alcoa High School standout and five-star recruit, was dismissed in large part because of an extended sideline outburst during the Volunteers' 26-22 home loss to Auburn on Saturday.

Teammates and coaches tried unsuccessfully to calm Warren in the immediate aftermath. He eventually settled down, located his thrown helmet and returned to the lineup.

Multiple witnesses said Warren got into a confrontation with wide receivers coach Frank Wilson, but attempts to confirm that Monday night were unsuccessful. Warren couldn't be reached for comment, and Wilson did not address reporters after practice.

Kiffin declined to give a specific reason for Warren's dismissal -- opting for "conduct detrimental to the team" -- but he said Saturday night wasn't the player's only blemish.

"Brandon Warren is no longer with our team," Kiffin said. "We wish him the best of luck, and we'll give him full academic support and keep him going in school. And that's the last I'm going to comment on it. It's very unfortunate.

"I am not going to get into anything further out of respect to him and his family, but he has not been removed from this team because of (Saturday) solely."

Warren, a Freshman All-America tight end at Florida State in 2007, stayed at that position for the Vols last season before cutting weight and moving to wide receiver in the spring. The 6-foot-2, 216-pound Warren occasionally dazzled coaches and teammates with big plays on the practice field. But his skills rarely translated into Saturday success.

Warren had 54 yards and two touchdowns on just seven receptions this season. He, like several teammates, struggled for consistent connections with much-maligned senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton.

Kiffin said some of the team's biggest busts Saturday night came on plays designed for Warren, though the receiver wasn't necessarily to blame for the results. One failed attempt on third down sent Warren fuming to the sideline.

He later returned to the game, and Kiffin said late Saturday night that he hadn't heard about the sideline eruption.

Kiffin didn't need long to act after checking into it, though.

"Adversity, if it's handled right, makes you stronger," Kiffin said. "A lot of times, things get worse before they get worse, unfortunately, when you take over a program.

"I said it last week, we've got 95 percent of the guys doing things right and buying in, and we'll be closer to being a championship team as more and more guys buy in. Unfortunately, along the way, if they don't, other things have to happen."

Warren was the second receiver in as many Saturdays to melt down on the sideline. Junior Gerald Jones, the team's leading returning pass-catcher, mouthed off briefly at Kiffin during the 34-23 victory over Ohio.

Jones'situation was different, Kiffin said.

"Gerald ... did have a small issue on the sidelines, which is something that he's learned from and something that he has expressed that he's apologetic for," Kiffin said. "He had a good week last week, and he had a good day today, and he's continued to improve."

Kiffin consistently praised Jones during preseason camp, and he claimed to understand the player's frustration with a failure to rediscover top form following a high ankle sprain.

Warren, on the other hand, repeatedly drew Kiffin's ire for perceived problems in overcoming minor aches and pains. After one of the player's visits to team trainers during a preseason practice, Kiffin yelled across the field, "What is it now?" Another time in camp, Kiffin told reporters that "it's always something with Brandon."

Crompton has completed just 82 of 150 passes -- 54.7 percent -- this season for 900 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. Aside from the Vols' season-opening 63-7 victory over Western Kentucky, he has tossed four touchdowns and six interceptions.

Still, he took most of the first-team's practice repetitions Monday. Kiffin has been less cautious in criticizing the quarterback's play, but he's always maintained that the offense had bigger problems.

"You're going to have games when your quarterback's inaccurate. It's going to happen," Kiffin said. "You're going to have games when there's some dropped balls. That's going to happen. But if you combine being inaccurate and ... six drops in a game, then it's going to be tough to be in rhythm. That's how you're going to end up with under 50 percent completions and a bunch of third-and-longs.

"Coming into the (Auburn) game, we had six total drops. In that game alone, we had six. That's how we got out of rhythm."

Several players declined Monday night requests to comment on Warren's dismissal.

about Wes Rucker...

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