KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee receiver Pig Howard, who led the Volunteers in receptions in 2013, will not participate in spring practice due to personal reasons, which starts Friday.
Second-year Vols coach Butch Jones confirmed multiple reports of Howard's absence in a text message to the Times Free Press early Tuesday afternoon.
The 5-foot-8, 186-pounder from Orlando caught 44 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns out of the slot receiver position as a sophomore last season after he caught 13 passes for 54 yards and a score as a freshman in 2012.
Howard's best game last season came against Georgia, when he recorded a career-high in all-purpose yards by catching four passes for 70 yards and running six times for 46 yards. At Missouri, Howard caught 11 passes for 89 yards. He caught touchdowns against South Carolina and Florida.
Beyond this spring, Howard's future with Tennessee's program is unclear.
The Vols added two receivers, five-star prospect Josh Malone and junior college transfer Von Pearson, in January as part of the 2014 recruiting class, and both will go through spring practice.
Pearson could get a look in the slot, and Johnathon Johnson, who came on at the important position in Tennessee's offense late last season, also will get more opportunities.
Jones's pre-spring news conference is scheduled for Thursday at noon, with the Vols starting practice late Friday afternoon.
More details as they develop online and in Wednesday's Times Free Press.
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 ...