Last month, Tennessee linebacker Jeremy Banks was arrested during a traffic stop because of a warrant out for his arrest stemming from his failure to attend a court hearing from a previous traffic citation. During the arrest, body cam footage captured Banks both being civil and also harassing the officers on hand. The footage also captured a conversation with head coach Jeremy Pruitt and an officer.
Pruitt said during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday that Banks would not be suspended for Saturday’s game against No. 3 Georgia, reiterating that the incident had been and will continue to be handled internally.
Tennessee’s head coach also addressed his part during the process.
Pruitt mentioned during his conversation with the officer that was captured on the body cam video that he and Banks had already met with a state trooper about getting the previous situation corrected from the summer. Pruitt assumed that the issue had been taken care of, and he was confused as to why there was a warrant out for Banks’ arrest.
“When his grandfather died in August, we’re sitting there with a state trooper trying to get this ticket right,” Pruitt says in the body cam video. “I thought we had paid the ticket. So, I don’t know.
“This is the silliest [expletive] I’ve ever seen in my life. I got it. I understand. I worked at four places, and they never had any [expletive] like this, except for here because the people usually say, ‘Hey, something’s not right here.'”
On Wednesday, Pruitt explained those comments and addressed what he meant by them.
“You know, when you get a phone call at 3:30 in the morning, you’re always going to take it,” Pruitt said according to quotes transcribed by 247Sports. “To be honest, when I got the phone call, I had no idea who I was talking to, probably for the first two minutes, and by the time I got it figured out, there was obviously some confusion, because it was late.
“I appreciate the officer talking to me and doing his job.”
Banks called Pruitt, and Pruitt spoke to one of the officers in attendance. As Pruitt mentioned, the incident happened very early in the morning on Sunday.
As for his other comments, Pruitt maintains that he wasn’t implying police officers should’ve taken it easy on Banks or that the law enforcement at his previous stops had cut football players any slack during incidents. The second-year head coach stated that he and his coaching staff need to do a better job about making sure they know the circumstances surrounding their players’ legal issues, too.
“No, absolutely not. There’s no place I’ve ever coached that anybody’s cut anybody a break,” Pruitt explained. “The point was the warrant was issued, and it had been issued for five weeks — or four weeks there — and I wasn’t aware of it, and that’s something that we’ve got to do a better job to focus on our players, so you don’t have a speeding ticket or anything that turns into something like this.
“We’ve got to do a better job as a staff to know what’s going on, and that’s something we’ve got to have a relationship to get it figured out.”
Ultimately, Banks hasn’t been suspended for the incident, though he didn’t play in Tennessee’s last game against Florida despite being on the travel roster. Banks suffered a minor ankle injury in practice the week leading up to the Florida game.
Pruitt will meet with the Knoxville media after practice on Wednesday and will likely be asked about the incident again during that availability.