Cameron Clear's future on the Tennessee football team remains uncertain.
The sophomore tight end was suspended indefinitely by coach Derek Dooley on Wednesday following his arrest on Tuesday. UT police caught the Memphis native with a stolen laptop, and Clear was charged with felony theft of between $1,000 and $10,000. The 19-year-old's bond of $2,500 was posted late Tuesday night, he was released from the Knox County Detention Facility and his bonded arraignment court date was set for June 1.
"We suspended him indefinitely, and we've just got to get more information," Dooley said before Wednesday night's Big Orange Caravan stop at the Chattanooga Convention Center. "We've got to shake it all out."
According to the arrest report from the UTPD, Brandon Zajac, a freshman pitcher on the Volunteers' baseball team, reported Saturday that his laptop was stolen from his dorm room in Gibbs Hall on UT's campus. The university's office of information technology contacted police Tuesday afternoon when it discovered the computer was accessing UT's wireless network. Police caught Clear with the laptop at Gate 2 of Neyland Stadium.
"Upon my arrival I saw Mr. Clear sitting with a silver Macbook in his lap," UTPD officer Ben Doty wrote in the report. "Once he saw the officer he closed the laptop."
The serial number of the computer in Clear's possession matched the number that Zajac provided to police. Clear was then taken into custody. UT and the Knoxville Police Department reportedly had investigated a string of thefts in Gibbs Hall earlier this month, though it appears Clear's arrest is a separate incident.
"I've never made my decisions on what our discipline should be on the legal process," Dooley said. "It's certainly an impact [and] it's a factor. But I've disciplined guys that I felt were wrong even though the legal process didn't say it, and I've defended some guys who legally, maybe they weren't right and I defended them from another standpoint.
"It's case-by-case. I'm not comfortable with where all the information that I've gotten everything I need before I do anything. Given the nature of what's happened, it's appropriate we suspend him indefinitely."
After playing in every game as a freshman and finishing the year as the Vols' second tight end, the 6-foot-6, 283-pound Clear continued progressing during the offseason and spring practice. His size makes him valuable as a blocker, but he also possesses the athleticism and the agility that's rare for a player his size. Clear was a four-star prospect and one of Tennessee's top players coming out of Memphis Central High School last year.
Zajac, a former Walker Valley High School standout, appeared in four games with three starts for the baseball Vols this season. The left-hander went 0-1 with an earned-run average of 5.68. He walked 12 batters and struck out three in 12 2/3 innings.
Indefinite suspensions following arrests have been the standard protocol for the Vols under Dooley.
The coach said he met with Clear earlier Wednesday in Knoxville. The Vols hadn't had a player arrested since linebacker Austin Johnson was taken into custody for public intoxication and disorderly conduct late last July.
"I'm disappointed in the charge, yeah," Dooley said after declining to say if he was surprised Clear ran into trouble. "Any time one of your players has an incident or an accusation on him, you're disappointed. But it's just so important that you don't rush to anything until you have a comfort level with all that's happened."
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.
ONLINE: A copy of the incident report.
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 ...
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