Three key members of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team in 2010 won't be returning this fall, and two of them are gone for good.
Mocs coach Russ Huesman said Monday that wide receiver Brian Sutherland has left UTC for personal reasons and All-Southern Conference defensive end Chris Donald is giving up the game because of recurring wrist problems.
Huesman also announced that he suspended running back Keon Williams for the 2011 season. Williams recently received two years probation after pleading guilty to charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
"They're all good players - good players and good kids," Huesman said. "Any time you lose anybody, it's damaging [to the program]."
The small-but-speedy Sutherland - he's 5-foot-7 with a 4.34 40-yard dash time - transferred to UTC from Miami (Ohio) in 2009. That fall he played in the first two games before abruptly leaving the team and school for personal reasons.
Huesman allowed Sutherland to rejoin the team that spring and last season he had 50 catches for 729 yards. Sutherland also was an effective returner, taking a kickoff back for a 98-yard touchdown against Auburn.
"Brian has decided not to come back to school here and there's personal issues that I can't get into," Huesman said.
Sutherland led the SoCon with 165.7 all-purpose yards a game and just as much, if not more, was expected of him this fall. The Mocs return third-team All-American Joel Bradford and Marlon Anthony, as well as several backups, but the loss of Sutherland could open the door for incoming freshmen Marlandas Crane and Ron Moore.
Donald was a five-star recruit coming out of Huntingdon High School and was rated the No. 1 inside linebacker prospect in the country and the top overall prospect in Tennessee.
He came to UTC in January 2010 after seeing limited action in two seasons at the University of Tennessee. In his only season with the Mocs, Donald led the team with 7.5 sacks, was fourth on the team with 47 tackles and earned second-team All-SoCon honors.
Donald played most of last season with wrist injuries and had surgery each wrist in the offseason. Huesman said Donald's recovery has been slow and Donald had not even started lifting weights.
"Chris gave four years to football and he's so banged up - he still can't do anything - and he's just too banged up to play," Huesman said.
Despite the loss of Donald, Huesman said he felt good the Mocs' defensive ends. Joshua Williams returns for his third season as a starter on the right side and redshirt freshman Davis Tull turned some heads during spring practice. The Mocs also have redshirt freshman Zach Rayl, who moved to end from linebacker this spring, and senior De'Markus Lee.
Huesman met with Williams on Monday and informed the former all-state rusher from Red Bank High School that he will not participate in any football-related activities this fall. Beyond that, Huesman said, it's up to Williams.
"What we're going to do is re-evaluate him after the fall, see where he is academically, socially, all aspects of his life," Huesman said, "and if he does everything he's supposed to, we'll bring him back on the football team."
Along with two years of probation, Williams must serve 10 court-ordered days of public works and submit to regular drug screenings for six months. He may also be facing undisclosed disciplinary action from UTC, Huesman said.
"He's going to be a busy young man, so he better have his head on right," Huesman said. "He's got his work cut out for him. If he's back on this football team, he came a long way and did a lot of things to get back on it."
The Mocs report for preseason practice on Aug. 3.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or (423) 757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP