Jones Indicates That Preston Williams is Cleared

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    Preston Williams-1-2

    Tennessee coach Butch Jones took to Twitter Thursday afternoon to officially welcome Preston Williams to the team.

    He didn’t go into detail in his tweet, but the tone of it appears to indicate that Williams, the five-star receiver from Hampton, Ga., has received clearance to officially join the team after he was held out due to his ACT score being flagged by the NCAA. Williams was required to retake the ACT by the NCAA on Aug. 10, and as recently as early Thursday afternoon, Jones said the issue was “out of his hands,” but now it appears the Vols have their answer – and their star freshman receiver – set to go.

    Williams has been around the team in some capacities, including taking part in the team photo on media day earlier this month, but has not been permitted to practice. The 6-foot-4, 209-pound receiver is also coming off a torn ACL suffered last November during his senior season in high school, so his exact health status and availability for games going forward is still unknown.

    The Vols are holding a “dress rehearsal” game Thursday night, Butch Jones confirmed earlier in the day, but it isn’t open to the media, so the next formal update on Williams may not come until next week.

    But the news does come at a perfect time for the Vols as receiver depth has been recently hit by injuries and a suspension. Jones confirmed that Pig Howard, the team’s leading returning receiver, will be suspended for the opener against Bowling Green. Receivers Jason Croom and Vincent Perry are also set for knee scopes on Friday and are out indefinitely. Marquez North just returned to practice this week following some missed time with a knee sprain, and receiver Josh Smith has been held out recently as well with a “strain.”

    That’s leaves the Vols with just Jauan Jennings, Johnathon Johnson, Josh Malone and Von Pearson as the scholarship receivers eligible for the opener who appear to have close to 100% health. So while it’s unclear how long it will be until Williams is ready to step in and contribute, his expected eventual return in 2015 is great news for the Vols in 2015.