KNOXVILLE — With a short break between the first and second sessions of summer school, University of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley gave his players a few days off from summer workouts over the weekend to go home and get some rest.
One of his former players, however, remained in Knoxville and ran into trouble.
David Oku, a running back who elected in January to transfer from UT, was arrested Monday on a domestic assault charge. Bond was set at $1,000 and Oku was granted a conditional release Tuesday morning.
The nation’s top all-purpose back in the 2009 recruiting class according to Rivals.com, Oku set UT records for kickoff returns and kickoff return yardage as a freshman, but the Oklahoma native struggled with consistency at running back during his two-year Volunteers career. He was behind Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown on the depth chart in 2009 and spent most of last season battling true freshman Rajion Neal for the backup role to Tauren Poole.
Oku, who was still listed as an active student in UT’s online directory, finished 2010 as UT’s third-leading rusher with 184 yards and one touchdown on 42 carries. He had three or fewer carries in seven games, including five zero-carry games. His kickoff-return-yardage average also dropped from 26 yards per return to less than 20.
Oku and Brown were two jewels in former UT coach Lane Kiffin’s 2009 recruiting class, a group that has failed to live up to the hype and national rankings. Ten of the 22 players are no longer with the program via transfers, academic reasons or disciplinary issues, though that number could change this week.
Janzen Jackson, UT’s star free safety who withdrew from UT in February for to the same personal reasons that kept him out of most of December’s Music City Bowl preparations, could return to classes on Thursday when the second session of summer school begins.
UT coach Derek Dooley has said Jackson has been on pace to return, and sources inside the football program have indicated for some time that the junior would be back with the Vols, though nothing is certain. Jackson has remained in Knoxville and stayed in touch with his coaches and teammates.
Jackson’s possible return would be a big boost to UT’s defense, as Dooley previously has called Jackson the Vols’ best defensive player. A starter since the second game of his UT career, Jackson was the Vols’ third-leading tackler and intercepted five passes last season.
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 ...