Austin Johnson called the 24 hours after his July arrest “something like a dream.”
The way the senior Tennessee linebacker described it after Tuesday’s practice, it safely could be classified as a nightmare for one of the Vols’ most respected leaders.
“I was sick to my stomach,” Johnson said in his first interview since the July 24 incident. “I was so embarrassed, I couldn't sleep at night, I couldn't eat.
“It wasn't the best time of my life and I let my family down … I let everyone down.”
Johnson was booked for public intoxication and disorderly conduct after an altercation with an unidentified male in the back parking lot of Tin Roof at 1915 Cumberland Ave. Johnson was also seen hitting vehicles, according to the police report.
Johnson, 22, said he wouldn’t discuss the details of the police report, but added that “some of the stuff that was said is not necessarily what I was doing.”
Johnson is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.
On Monday, Johnson said he addressed the entire team during a meeting. He said he used Tuesday's practice as a release from all the stress that's followed him since he became the first Vol to find trouble with the law in months.
“I should have never put myself in that situation,” Johnson said. “I should have never been out that late. I'm extremely embarrassed. I embarrassed my team, I embarrassed the fans, I embarrassed my family and I embarrassed my coaches. I've learned from my mistakes.
“I plan to move forward and become a better person from this.”
Coach Derek Dooley said Monday that Johnson’s punishment with the team would be handled “internally.” Penciled in as the Vols’ first-team weakside linebacker, Johnson is not expected to miss any playing time in the season opener against Montana.
One of the Vols’ few scholarship seniors, Johnson said he hasn’t had his leadership abilities questioned by his teammates or coaches, who he said have been behind him “100 percent.”
Those outside the program also played a large role in boosting Johnson’s spirits, as he fielded numerous messages of support from UT fans.
“They've showed me a lot of support,” Johnson said. “That's meant the world to me. Just to make sure they know I have their back and they have my back.
“I think this is only going to make us grow stronger as a family and just keep moving on.”
Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble