KNOXVILLE - University of Tennessee freshman defensive end Jacques Smith from Ooltewah High School turned himself in to local authorities Sunday for a simple assault charge and was released, according to first-year Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley and UT officials.
Several witnesses said Smith and another man had an incident regarding a woman late Saturday night at a campus-area, Cumberland Avenue establishment.
"Based on what we've heard from both the police and Jacques, there was an altercation between Jacques and another student regarding a girl," UT athletics spokesman Jimmy Stanton said. "Once the altercation started, members of our team who were present stepped in and diffused the situation, (and) all parties then walked out on their own accord and without major injuries. There were no further incidents. Several hours later, the other student and his mother decided to press charges.
"Those are the facts, as have been relayed to us."
Dooley said he planned to handle the incident "internally."
"It sounded like, in this latest incident, that there were some emotions over a girl," Dooley said. "Jacques used some bad judgment, and our team did the right thing to diffuse the situation.
Dooley, whose players were involved in a highly-publicized fight this summer in a Cumberland Avenue establishment, said he was "not sure that the incident with Jacques is a cultural issue."
"I think for the most part we've seen a tremendous amount of progress in how our players are conducting themselves off the field," the coach continued. "Coincidentally, I got word from the airline yesterday that this was the most respectful, most behaved football team that they'd ever transported. That means a lot to me. And I think that's a good statement of some of the progress that we're making off the field.
"I'm not just saying that in light of what happened last night, but I thought that was a good, positive thing from a third party."
Smith, who has collected 18 tackles in a gradually increasing role for the Vols this season, had two stops and a quarterback hurry in UT's 38-24 loss at then-No. 17 South Carolina on Saturday. He was also flagged for personal foul, late hit penalty during the game.
The Vols flew back to Knoxville on Saturday after the game.