KNOXVILLE — Tailback Quenshaun Watson is no longer part of the University of Tennessee football program.
The freshman wasn't listed on the updated roster the program released Monday evening. He had returned last week to his hometown of Athens, Ga., for personal reasons.
Leroy Ryals, Watson's coach at Clarke Central High School, said Monday morning that he had not spoken with him or new Tennessee coach Butch Jones about the situation and did not know if Watson might return to the Volunteers.
He said he was "sorely disappointed" in Watson and "wholeheartedly" disagreed with the player's decision to come home.
Tennessee offensive lineman Alan Posey played with Watson at Clarke Central. On his Twitter account Friday night, the rising redshirt sophomore posted, "Guess I'm the lone Gladiator on Rocky Top now," in reference to Watson's departure and their high school's nickname.
Watson ran for 73 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries and caught a 17-yard pass in six appearances this past season. He moved ahead of Devrin Young in the backfield pecking order and held the Vols' second tailback role when Rajion Neal missed two games in October.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder was rated as a three-star prospect who ran for more than 4,000 yards and scored 55 touchdowns at Clarke Central in addition to winning the Class AAAA 100-meter title his senior year with a 10.54-second time.
The Vols return Neal, Young, Marlin Lane, Tom Smith and Alden Hill at running back for Jones' first team. Only Neal, Tennessee's leading rusher in 2012, will be a senior. Smith will be a third-year sophomore with 10 carries in two years, and Hill redshirted his first year with the Vols.
Watson is the fourth freshman to leave Tennessee's program. Including NFL draft entrants Cordarrelle Patterson and Darrington Sentimore, seven players from the Vols' 22-man 2012 signing class won't be with the program next season. Tailback Davante Bourque left Tennessee during the preseason, and cornerback Deion Bonner and defensive linemen Omari Phillips and Trent Taylor didn't return after playing one season.
With Watson's departure and the addition of five early enrollees -- defensive back Lemond Johnson, safety Jalen Reeves-Maybin, cornerback Riyahd Jones, linebacker Corey Vereen and receiver Paul Harris -- Tennessee unofficially has 66 scholarship players.
Juco tight end commits
Jones' first big recruiting weekend as Tennessee's coach resulted in one commitment, though the Vols had to wait a little bit for it.
California junior college tight end Woody Quinn went public Monday with his Sunday night commitment to Tennessee. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound former Pepperdine volleyball player played football at Santa Ana College this past season for the first time since his freshman year of high school. He caught 15 passes for 252 yards in eight games and received scholarship offers from Fresno State and San Diego State.
Quinn was one of nine official visitors on campus this past weekend. The group included two Tennessee commitments -- four-star Memphis defensive lineman Jason Carr and three-star Charlotte, N.C., quarterback Riley Ferguson -- and four players who have committed elsewhere: four-star Memphis offensive lineman Christian Morris (UCLA), three-star Alabama tailback Johnathan Ford (Vanderbilt), three-star Alabama linebacker Jonathan Walton (Penn State) and three-star Florida dual-threat quarterback John Franklin III (Florida State).
Three-star junior college offensive lineman Chongo Kondolo and three-star Miami-area linebacker Jermaine Grace were uncommitted prospects on campus.
Four-star Charlotte receiver MarQuez North, whose decision is down to Tennessee, North Carolina and Clemson, made an unofficial trip to campus Saturday, and Tennessee coaches traveled to Richmond, Va., on Sunday to visit Derrick Green, the nation's top-rated running back prospect according to Rivals.com.
Quinn's commitment gives Tennessee 19 for its 2013 recruiting class with two more weekends of official visits. NCAA sanctions from the Willie Mack Garza infractions in 2009 reduced Tennessee's allotment of official visits for this cycle from 51 to 47. Tennessee has used 24 visits.
Tennessee's football team, which had seen its grade point average drop to 2.08 on a 4.0 scale, posted a 2.49 GPA for the fall semester, according to numbers the university released Monday. ... Tight end Mychal Rivera accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he'll join Vols offensive lineman Dallas Thomas for the Jan. 26 game. ... Former Tennessee safeties coach Josh Conklin was named the new defensive coordinator at Florida International, two days after Kentucky hired former Tennessee cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley to the same position. ... After three seasons at Tennessee coaching quarterbacks and receivers, Darin Hinshaw is now the passing game coordinator and receivers coach at Cincinnati. Blake Rolan, an offensive intern at Tennessee the past three seasons, also is at Cincinnati. Charlie Coiner and John Palermo are the only coaches from the Vols' 2012 season who have yet to take new jobs.
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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