Jeremy Pruitt “Removes” Jeremy Banks from Vols’ Football Team

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    Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

    Last month, Tennessee sophomore 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. During the arrest, Banks said to one of the officers present that “Where I’m from (west Tennessee), we shoot cops.” The footage also captured a conversation with head coach Jeremy Pruitt and an officer.

    Originally, Pruitt said the punishment for Banks’ arrest and subsequent actions had been handled internally. But on Friday, that changed.

    Pruitt and the University of Tennessee announced on Friday afternoon that the sophomore linebacker is being kicked off Tennessee’s football team.

    “I have made the decision to remove Jeremy Banks from our football program,” Pruitt said via a statement. “While I will continue to support Jeremy in the next steps in his life, information I recently received made it clear that this decision is in the best interest of the football program and the university.”

    Pruitt failed to specify what the information he recently received was, but it appears it might be new info that hasn’t been made public as of yet.

    Banks did not play in Tennessee’s last game two weeks ago against the Florida Gators. Banks traveled with the team down to Gainesville, but he suffered an ankle injury late in the week during practice and was held out of the game.

    In the body cam footage, Banks can be heard multiple times making off-color remarks towards the officers present during his arrest. Pruitt himself can be heard on the footage as well while on the phone with an officer.

    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 during the SEC coaches teleconference this week. “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 some of 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.”

    Banks, who originally joined the Vols as a running back, finishes his Tennessee career with 52 carries for 185 yards and three touchdowns, adding a reception for 10 yards on offense. On defense, Banks totaled 10 tackles, a tackle for loss, two interceptions, and two passes defended.

    We will update as more information becomes available.

    UPDATE (6:35 PM Eastern, Oct. 4): A report has been released alleging that Banks threatened a female UT student back in August.



    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.