Tennessee was thought to be the surprise team of the Southeastern Conference, especially after it finished last season at 7-6. Tough losses to Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas have it sitting in a rough spot at 2-3. It is winless in conference play, and more troubling news occurred Wednesday as star wide receiver Alton “Pig” Howard was dismissed from the team.
Tennessee’s head coach Butch Jones said the decision was made due to a violation of team rules on Howard’s part. The junior has led the Volunteers in receiving for the past two years.
Howard, 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, is a native of Orlando, Fla. He totaled 984 career receiving yards and five touchdowns on 105 catches. Howard played in 34 games, prior to his dismissal.
Losing Howard hurts Tennessee because of his diversity at receiver, running back and return specialist. It has Marquez North and Jason Croom, but both have struggled with nagging injuries. Senior Von Pearson returned to the team after having off-field allegations (rape) dropped. He has accounted for 44 career receptions, with six coming from this season.
Tennessee will not have Howard against Alabama on Oct. 24. He’s one of few players that could create success against the Crimson Tide’s defense on the edge with his acceleration.
Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.