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Jones: Pearson Situation “Not an Illustration of our Football Program”

Von Pearson-1-3Saturday’s Orange and White Game was also the first opportunity Butch Jones had to address the media following the news that rising senior receiver Von Pearson was named as a suspect in a rape investigation that came out on Friday.

“I don’t want that to take away from all the great things that are going on in this football program,” Jones said. “It is an ongoing situation. He’s suspended indefinitely.”

As expected, Pearson, a former junior college transfer who made 38 receptions in 11 games in 2014, was not in attendance at the Orange and White Game on Saturday. The alleged rape that is being investigated occurred early Friday morning, between Thursday’s practice, which Pearson did attend, and Saturday’s Orange and White Game.

Tennessee’s program has come under some level of national scrutiny in the past couple of days after the incident. The Vols have run into multiple off-the-field issues in the past year, with the most notable coming when A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams were indefinitely suspended in November amidst rape allegations. Both have since been indicted, and have entered a not-guilty plea as they await trail.

But Jones doesn’t see it as a trend, and defended the overall quality of character that the Vols have in their program.

“There are consequences for your choices and actions, and we constantly educate our players,” Jones said. “It’s not an illustration of our football program. We have tremendous, tremendous kids in our football program. I’m disappointed, but we have to move forward. We have a lot of great kids and a lot of things going on here. I know people try to use that against us, but we have great kids. I think that’s been proven with our community service, our academic excellence, and we’ll continue to move forward. There are consequences for actions.”

Pearson had worked with the first and second team offenses throughout the course of the spring. The Vols started Pig Howard, Josh Smith and Johnathon Johnson at receiver on Saturday. Howard led the team with three receptions for 49 yards, while rising sophomore Josh Malone led the team in receiving yards with 80 on two catches.

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