KNOXVILLE—Whether Janzen Jackson will wear a Tennessee football uniform again will remain a mystery for the foreseeable future.
But if there's one certainty in a situation filled with unknowns, it's the support the Volunteers' talented safety will have from his teammates and coaches.
"He's doing well," cornerback Anthony Anderson said Monday after volunteering at the Punt, Pass & Kick event for Knoxville-area Boys & Girls Clubs at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.
"We didn't know the issue. Coach [Derek Dooley] just said that Janzen's not going to be with us, and we didn't know what it was for and we still don't know really what it's for. But he said keep [Jackson] up, talk to him when you can and let him know you care about him and you're hoping he gets back and you're praying for him."
Jackson, a former five-star recruit widely considered the Vols' most talented defensive player, withdrew from UT for the spring semester earlier this month for the same personal reasons that kept him out of most of UT's December practices for the Music City Bowl.
Cornerback Art Evans said he talked to Jackson, who was still in Knoxville as of late last week, in the last two days.
"You build these relationships and they go a long way," said Evans, who was reinstated after a five-game season-ending earlier this month. "Janzen is like a brother. [I'm] not just saying that because we're on the same team, but we really build those types of relationships.
"When somebody goes down or is hurting, we all hurt. I think the greatest feeling is to understand that he's going to be all right, and he's just going through something right now."
Dooley conveyed his support for Jackson's well-being, and Evans said his coach also assisted him through his own suspension.
"I know it just as well as they did with me," Evans said. "It's awesome to have coaches like that. I'm not at any other school, so I can't speak on any other school, but the coaches we have, they love you. They're going to cuss you out at the same time, but they're also going to be there for you and help you understand not just football values but life values."
"We all need each other," said cornerback Marsalis Teague, who came in as part of the 2009 signing class with Jackson. "It's not just one particular person that needs us more than the other, but we all need each other and we're a family, so that's what we've got to act like."
Anderson said he talked to Jackson on Sunday, and Teague said he and Jackson talk "pretty regularly," as Jackson's secondary mates have taken the task of supporting him to heart.
"It's very important," Anderson said. "Sometimes you don't get it at home, and sometimes you do. To know that you've got more people you can talk to and that care about you and that you've got a shoulder to lean on, I feel like he can make better decisions and maybe he can come out from this little test he's going through."
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...