A growing backfield lost a competitor when tailback Lennon Creer decided to leave Tennessee’s football team.
“Lennon is no longer with us,” coach Lane Kiffin announced following Thursday’s practice. “He’s decided that he doesn’t want to be a part of the program anymore and he’s going to go in a different direction so we wish him the best of luck.”
Kiffin said the junior from Tatum, Texas, plans to finish the spring semester before finding enrolling elsewhere.
“Hopefully he finishes the semester well academically so he’ll be able to transfer somewhere,” Kiffin said.
A former high school track standout, Creer’s speed and 5.3-yard per carry average in 2008 had many thinking that he could be a long-distance threat this season.
With senior Montario Hardesty as the most experienced returning tailback, Creer struggled to outperform sophomore Tauren Poole this spring.
“I think he’s done really well in the system,” Kiffin said of Poole. “He’s really been a one cut runner. That has really helped him.
“This system is kind of designed for a guy like him. We don’t know how much long speed he has but we know that he’s very quick.”
Even freshman Toney Williams, who enrolled at UT in January, has drawn more praise from UT’s coaches than Creer.
“Toney is a little bit bigger - has really been extremely physical,” Kiffin said of the 6-foot, 218-pounder. “For a guy who’s really a senior in high school right now, (he) has come in and attacked the defensive ends in some drills and shown a lot of toughness.”
UT also has two highly rated tailbacks - Bryce Brown and David Oku - set to enroll this summer.
“We’ve got a pretty good set of guys coming that we’re excited about so it gives some other guys some more opportunity,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin said he was still considering how restrictive Creer’s release from UT would be. Kiffin said it would likely preclude Creer from transferring within the SEC or to future UT opponents.
Creer will have to sit out one season of football if he transfers to another Division I school. A release from UT would allow Creer to be placed on scholarship elsewhere. Otherwise, he would have to pay for his school.
Creer would have to transfer to a Division II school in order to play this season.