Heupel mum on Banks’ absence in Vols’ loss


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Josh Heupel declined Monday to address what kept linebacker Jeremy Banks out of the Volunteers’ loss at South Carolina.

“We anticipate Jeremy being with us here this week. And as far as what transpired and those type of things, at the end of the day he was not available,” Heupel said when asked if Banks had been involved in an altercation with a teammate that led to him being disciplined.

The 63-38 loss to South Carolina was the first game Banks, the Vols’ third-leading tackler, had missed this season. The rout ended Tennessee’s hopes of making the College Football Playoff and dropped the Vols from fifth to ninth in The Associated Press’ Top 25 rankings.

Without Banks, the Vols gave up 606 yards total offense and touchdowns on nine of 12 drives to South Carolina.

The circumstances of Banks’ absence are vague, but he did seem to address rumors with a social media post Sunday.

Banks posted on his Instagram story, saying “Wasn’t about no conflict or nun like that. Get Facts bro, coming back harder than ever!”

Tennessee (9-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) wraps up the regular season Saturday night at in-state rival Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5). The Vols can clinch their first 10-win regular season since 2003 and first overall since 2007.

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