LaMarcus Coker's dynamic and often troubled career at Tennessee is over.
Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer dismissed the sophomore tailback from the team Friday, two days after he announced Coker's third suspension in less than a year.
A source told the News Sentinel that if Coker were dismissed Friday, it would be because he failed a drug test.
Under Tennessee's revamped drug policy, a player is immediately dismissed following a fourth positive test for marijuana.
"I felt like he wasn't doing what he needed to do, and we needed to go on about our business as a football team," Fulmer said following a walk-through Friday in the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. "I do wish him well. I'm really disappointed for him, for our football team to a degree, but most of all because it's his life. I hope he gets straightened out and does really well at whatever he chooses to do."
On Wednesday, Coker was suspended for today's 4 p.m. homecoming game against Louisiana-Lafayette after missing counseling sessions he intermittently attended following an August suspension.
A source told the News Sentinel in August that Coker's suspension came following a positive test for marijuana.
A source also said that Fulmer's decision to dismiss Coker came after Fulmer met with those involved in Coker's counseling and before results of Coker's drug test were known.
Coker was suspended for five practices last December leading up to the Outback Bowl, although he scored the Vols' only touchdown against Penn State in that game on a 42-yard touchdown run.
Coker, who led the Vols in rushing last season, ranks fourth in the SEC on kickoff returns and is the Vols' second leading rusher behind starter Arian Foster.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Coker recorded two of Tennessee's four longest runs in school history last season.
Coker could not be reached for comment Friday, and his stepfather, Johnny Duncan, declined comment on behalf of the family when reached at his home Friday afternoon in Antioch, Tenn.
Coker's former coach at Antioch High School, Thomas McPhail, said Coker was one of the most well-liked players on his high school team.
McPhail also said he first learned of Coker's issues with marijuana through media reports.
"One-on-one, he's probably one of the most likeable kids," said McPhail, now an assistant coach at Father Ryan. "He seemed to focused on playing college football. The things going on now, I'm disappointed in his decision making."
So was Fulmer, who made the decision to dismiss Coker after talking to the tailback and several of those involved in his treatment on Friday.
"I can lay my head on my pillow and know that we, within the rules, have done everything we can possibly do for LaMarcus to overcome his challenges," Fulmer said. "I take that very seriously when I sit in a living room with a family, particularly a mother. I've talked to his mother. They were all very appreciative of everything, as is LaMarcus.
"I have regrets that he screwed it up."
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.