Ooltewah High School senior defensive end and University of Tennessee commitment Jacques Smith will have to sit out Friday night’s first-round playoff game between the fifth-ranked Owls and seventh-ranked Farragut.
Owls coach Benny Monroe told The Chattanooga Times Free Press on Thursday that Smith was suspended for one game after getting into a fight with a teammate and hitting him in the face during practice this week.
“I was just going to say it was a violation of team rules, or a coach’s discipline, but that seemed to just create more rumors,” Monroe told the newspaper. “I had people calling to ask if Jacques had been kicked out of school or off the team or if his future was in jeopardy.
“The Internet news is a bunch of bull. It’s people getting on there and saying things when they have no idea what they’re talking about. I want to clear it up right now. Jacques was suspended for this one game by me for hitting a teammate. Period. It doesn’t affect him at school, and if we win this game he’ll be back next week.”
Monroe added that Smith, who has 23 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks this season, would be able to return should the Owls advance to the second round.
When reached by the News Sentinel early Thursday afternoon, Smith said he was too busy to talk.
Earlier in the day, Monroe told the News Sentinel that the issue with Smith was an “in-house thing” and added that Smith had not been dismissed from school.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Smith is the News Sentinel’s top prospect in the state.
The Times Free Press reported that immediately after suspending Smith, Monroe called Tennessee assistant coach Ed Orgeron to inform him of the situation. Orgeron told Monroe that the Vols’ staff knew Smith too well for this incident to jeopardize his future. Smith still plans to enroll at UT in January.