When Tennessee takes the field for their bowl game in less than a month, they’ll do so without senior wide receiver Jauan Jennings for the first half.
On Wednesday, the SEC offices in Birmingham, Alabama announced that Jennings would be suspended for the first half of the Vols bowl game due to a sideline incident that occurred late in the fourth quarter against Vanderbilt on Nov. 30 at Neyland Stadium.
Jennings hit Commodores’ wide receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley on a kick return out of bounds, and while the two were tangled up on the sideline, Jennings appeared to have stepped on Shelton-Mosley’s exposed face after his helmet came off.
The league released a statement on the matter Wednesday:
“Tennessee football player Jauan Jennings has been suspended by the Southeastern Conference for the first half of Tennessee’s post-season bowl game for actions against an opposing player during the Vanderbilt at Tennessee game on November 30, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced Wednesday.
With 3:06 remaining in the fourth quarter of the game, Jennings was involved in an altercation with an opposing player in which he committed a flagrant personal foul as determined by a video review by the conference office.
The suspension is consistent with NCAA Football Playing Rule 9-6-2 which states “If subsequent review of a game by a conference reveals plays involving flagrant personal fouls that game officials did not call, the conference may impose sanctions prior to the next scheduled game.”
The Southeastern Conference considers this matter concluded and will have no further comment.”
Less than an hour later, Tennessee Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer released a statement of his own in regards to the suspension, saying that he had a “long talk” with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and that UT would honor the league’s decision to suspend Jennings for the first half.
“Commissioner Sankey shared his perspective on the actions in question,” Fulmer said. “We had a long conversation about the matter, and we will honor the suspension.
Jauan (Jennings) has been nothing but outstanding for our team and program this entire season.”
While Tennessee’s bowl game destination and opponent have yet to be announced, having Jennings out for two quarters could be a big blow to the Vols’ offense.
Jennings has proven to be Tennessee’s most dangerous and consistent weapon on the offensive side of the ball.
In his senior campaign, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee native has had 57 receptions for 942 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2019.
While the Vols’ wide receiving corps, which consists of senior Marquez Callaway and junior Josh Palmer, has been an effective part of their offense this season, missing Jennings takes away one of redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano’s big targets.
Tennessee first-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will have to scheme around Jennings’ absence for the first half, depending on who the Vols are paired with in their bowl game.
While two reliable wide receivers remain, the Vols found new life in their rushing attack against Vanderbilt after true freshman Eric Gray rushed for a career-high 246 yards and two touchdowns.
As of now, Tennessee is projected to play in one of at least three bowl games with the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl or the Outback Bowl being the most likely.
The Vols will find out their postseason destination beginning at noon on Sunday, Dec. 8 on ESPN.