NASHVILLE - Lance Guidry, the interim coach at Miami (Ohio), said Wednesday his son, Tennessee safety Janzen Jackson, is dealing "well" with the serious family issues that caused him to miss more than a week of bowl practice earlier in the month.
Speaking on The Sports Page, a Knoxville News Sentinel-affiliated sports talk show on The Sports Animal, Guidry said he’s been in contact with Jackson on a daily basis since the sophomore returned home to Lake Charles, La., shortly after fall semester exams.
“It’s kind of a family situation,” said Guidry, who, like UT coach Derek Dooley did earlier in the week, declined to divulge specifics about Jackson’s absence.
“He’s dealing with it well. He reported to practice. He’s been staying in touch with the coaches. We’ve talked every day during the process. He’s doing well. I expect him to play well in the game. It ought to be a good matchup between Tennessee and North Carolina.”
Jackson returned to practice Sunday when the Vols reported to Nashville for the Music City Bowl. Despite requests, he was not made available to reporters Sunday or Monday, the latter of which serving as the final day of player availability before today’s game at LP Field.
“I think he’ll keep it quiet,” Guidry said. “Some things you open up about and other things you don’t. You kind of keep it within your family.
“I think that’s what he’s going to do, he’s going to keep it within the family, which is probably the best thing.”
Dooley said Sunday he would allow Jackson to decide whether or not to share any details with the public.
“It’s just not my place to make that decision,” Dooley said.
Guidry, who served as Jackson’s coach for three years at Carencro (La.) High before taking a job at McNeese State before Jackson’s senior season, said he’s been able to catch all of UT’s games on TV this season. He saw Jackson shine in person when UT downed Vanderbilt on the RedHawks’ open date.
“I thought he played well. Of course, he can always get better,” Guidry said. “He handled the off-the-field a lot better than the year before. That was the biggest thing.”
Jackson was suspended for three games last season when he, along with two former teammates, Mike Edwards and Nu’Keese Richardson, were arrested on alleged armed robbery charges. Jackson’s charges were later dismissed and he returned for the 2009 regular season finale against Kentucky.
Widely considered the most talented player on UT’s defense, Jackson started all 12 games this season, finished with 65 tackles and four interceptions and picked up second-team, All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches.
“I’m always concerned as a daddy about off-the-field stuff,” Guidry said. “He’s had a good year all around and I hope that continues.”
Guidry joked that Jackson might be pondering a transfer to Miami (Ohio). Guidry recently took over as interim coach after Michael Haywood was named coach at Pittsburgh.
“He doesn’t want to play for his daddy,” Guidry said.
Andrew Gribble covers Tennessee football and recruiting. He may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble/