Two Vols who have grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons over the last few weeks will be making the trip down to Gainesville with the rest of their Tennessee teammates this weekend.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said after practice on Wednesday that both sophomore defensive back Bryce Thompson and sophomore linebacker Jeremy Banks will travel with the Vols when they go down to The Swamp to take on the No. 9 Florida Gators on Saturday.
“They’re gonna travel,” Pruitt said when asked specifically about both Thompson and Banks.
A team’s travel roster is much smaller than the allotted roster space for home games. Football teams usually only take around 70 players with them on road trips as opposed to being allowed their full allotment of 85 scholarship players and some walk-ons during home games.
Thompson had been serving an indefinite suspension stemming from an incident during the weekend of August 24th where he was charged with domestic assault. Pruitt and Tennessee announced that Monday, August 26th, that Thompson would be suspended indefinitely as the process played on.
During mid-week last week, Pruitt and Tennessee announced that Thompson’s suspension had been lifted, and he would be allowed back at practice. While Thompson practiced, he didn’t play on Saturday when the Vols hosted UT-Chattanooga.
Because of that missed time, Pruitt says Thompson has to earn his playing time all over again.
“He’s been participating. It’s one of the things you can see, guys that don’t participate in fall camp, whether it’s injury and they have to play early in the season, they don’t play as well,” Pruitt said. “He’s missed a lot of time here in the last few weeks. He’s gotta kinda earn his way back out there.”
Thompson was a freshman All-American in 2018 during his first year with Tennessee, but he hadn’t practiced with the team for two and a half weeks before being reinstated by Pruitt last week. Alontae Taylor, Warren Burrell, and Kenneth George Jr. have all started at the two main cornerback positions for the Vols in the first three weeks of the season in Thompson’s absence.
It remains to be seen if Thompson will see the field against Florida on Saturday, but he’ll at least be on the sideline and available to play if Pruitt and his staff deem him ready.
For Banks, his off-field incident wasn’t nearly as major as Thompson’s.
It was reported earlier this week that Banks was arrested after 3 AM on Sunday morning after being pulled over for making an illegal U-turn. While making the U-turn was a minor violation, Banks was arrested because he had a warrant out for his arrest stemming from a failure to appear in court for a prior traffic incident over the summer. The sophomore was supposed to appear in court in late August, but he was a no-show, leading to the warrant out for his arrest.
According to a statement from Tennessee, the incident over the past weekend was handled in a short period of time, and Banks doesn’t appear to be facing any suspension from Pruitt.
In three games this season, Banks has totaled seven tackles, a tackle for loss, and two interceptions. Both of his interceptions came against UT-Chattanooga this past weekend.
The Vols will take on the Gators at noon Eastern on Saturday, September 21st. The game will be televised on ESPN.