Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Tennessee coach Josh Heupel addresses Jaylen McCullough’s arrest in Monday press conference

Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel wasn’t as jovial on Monday as he has been during other press conferences this season. That’s understandable. Heupel had to address starting defensive back Jaylen McCullough’s arrest on Sunday.

Heupel didn’t have much to offer on Monday.

“We learned a bit really late yesterday,” Heupel said. “As we gather more information, then I’ll have more for you.”

If McCullough isn’t able to play against Alabama on Saturday, Heupel seemed content with the Vols depth in the defensive backfield.

“We feel good about the guys who have played at that position,” Heupel said. “We have flexibility in the secondary, guys that have been trained to play multiple positions. We’ll see as the week unfolds here, but have great trust in all those guys.”

McCullough, who is a a starting safety for the Vols, was arrested on Sunday afternoon when police were called to 2030 Grand Ave. Upon arriving at the scene, the alleged victim, per the report, had a bloody, swollen mouth and was missing teeth when police arrived.

The man said he had been drinking with friends at an apartment complex at the address, left to obtain items from a vehicle and said he accidentally returned to the wrong building. After knocking on the door of the wrong residence and not receiving an answer, he entered the apartment, realized he was in the wrong residence and apologized.

The alleged victim said he was then pursued by a man, apologized again and told the man pursuing him that he “didn’t have to be an (expletive) about it” during the encounter. The pursuing man then punched him in the face causing him to lose consciousness after he fell backward down some stairs.

Police interviewed the alleged victim and a woman claiming to be McCullough’s girlfriend at the scene. She then called McCullough, who returned to the scene with a bloody bandage on his hand and was arrested. McCullough did not answer questions and was taken into custody without incident.

McCullough is the third Tennessee player to be arrested in the past two months. Two transfers, offensive lineman Savion Herring from Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York, and linebacker William Mohan from Michigan, were arrested on individual felony aggravated domestic assault charges and were dismissed from the team. Mohan and Herring were arrested on Aug. 21 and Sept. 11, respectively.

The Vols are coming off of a 40-13 win against LSU in which they were forced to play without defensive back Warren Burrell, who was sidelined for the remainder of the season due to an undisclosed injury. Despite a solid performance against the Tigers on Saturday, Tennessee’s defensive backfield has been an issue this season. The Vols are 13th in the SEC in pass defense.

McCullough, 21, has been a four-year starter for the Vols. He is tied for fourth on the team with 23 tackles. The Vols face No. 3 Alabama in Neyland Stadium at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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