KNOXVILLE - The punishment for Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive tackle Danny O'Brien will be handled internally, Volunteers coach Butch Jones said Tuesday.
The two players were arrested earlier this month at a party at an off-campus apartment and had their court dates late last week, and both will have all charges dropped against them by meeting certain requirements.
"I'll handle all punishment inside," Jones told the Times Free Press. "I'll handle it inside and [determine] what is appropriate. I think lost in the whole mix is ... we have great character kids if you look at our academic success that we've had, if you look at our community service hours.
"I'll handle the appropriate means necessary with the players all involved."
Johnson, an All-SEC performer and Tennessee's leading tackler the past two seasons, was charged with purchasing alcohol for an underage person and resisting arrest, though that charge was dropped last Friday. Johnson must perform 24 hours of community service, pay court costs and have good conduct for 90 days to have the other charge dropped.
O'Brien, the redshirt sophomore charged with criminal impersonation with a false identification, underage consumption and resisting arrest, will have all charges dropped in six months by performing 40 hours of community service, paying court fees, showing good conduct and submitting to alcohol assessment.
Four more players - offensive tackle Dontavius Blair, defensive lineman Dimarya Mixon, cornerback Justin Coleman and defensive end Malik Brown - were among 14 partygoers cited for underage consumption. Linebackers Curt Maggitt, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Jakob Johnson were listed as residents of the apartment hosting the party of 80 to 90 people.
The arrests were the first in Jones' 15-month tenure as Tennessee's coach, and he defended his players' character and added his program brings in speakers each week to talk to his team about conduct.
"They understand right from wrong and it's all about decisions, but we have too much good going on right now and really good character kids," Jones said. "They made some poor decisions and a poor choice, and it'll be handled accordingly."
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.