John Adams on Janzen Jackson

Derek Dooley still holding out hope

John Adams
Tennessee defensive back Janzen Jackson tackles Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010.  The Vols defeated the Rebels 52-14.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee defensive back Janzen Jackson tackles Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. The Vols defeated the Rebels 52-14.

The football futures of Darren Myles and Janzen Jackson seemed intertwined at the end of Tennessee’s 2010 spring practice.

Myles was named the defensive MVP of the spring. Jackson was coming off a promising freshman season. Together, they formed a safety tandem that seemingly would fortify UT’s last line of defense for at least the next two or three years, with the possibility one would be sufficiently advanced to go pro by the end of his third college season.

The tandem never made it to the first game.

Myles was kicked off the team for his role in the infamous Bar Knoxville brawl last summer. Ten months later, Jackson is in football limbo after withdrawing from school this winter to deal with personal issues.

The two players once shared more than a position. Both were acclaimed recruits, signed by former UT coach Lane Kiffin. And both were involved in off-the-field incidents. But their similarities are no longer as significant as the most glaring difference between them.

UT second-year coach Derek Dooley still believes in one of them.

Dooley said it took him no more than an hour to determine that Myles had to go after the player was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer, and resisting and evading arrest.

The decision wasn’t surprising. What else would you expect from a coach who often has made good character sound as important as a good 40 time?

But the same coach who cut loose Myles still embraces his other troubled safety and still prepares to welcome him back to the team if he does what’s required this offseason. So far, so good is one way to characterize the coach’s assessment of Jackson’s progress this off-season.

“I have a comfort level with Janzen,” Dooley explains.

There’s comfort. There’s no certainty.

“Every decision I’ve made (relative to the secondary) has been with the idea Janzen won’t be back,” Dooley said.

Jackson’s return would come with a risk attached.

As a freshman, he was suspended for a game by Kiffin. He wasn’t allowed to play for three more games before he was cleared of any wrongdoing in an alleged armed-robbery at a local convenience store. Last December, he was excused from more than a week of practice but played in the Music City Bowl. Dooley offered no explanation, but Jackson’s father said in a radio interview on the Sports Page that it was a “family situation.”

All that history raises a couple of obvious question: Why risk another setback and the distractions that come with it, especially when you have placed such import on good character in laying the foundation for your program?

“We want a culture of good character,” Dooley said. “It doesn’t mean you won’t have players making bad decisions.”

Dooley says he will judge those bad decisions on a case-by-case basis. So Myles is gone; Jackson stays — for now.

The coach can’t provide specifics in defending his decision to support Jackson, because he can’t publicly discuss the player’s problem. While Dooley acknowledges that the program ultimately must come first, he also said the steps taken on Jackson’s behalf are the same he would have taken for his own son.

One’s football family is different, of course. And in the most candid conversations, so are its members.

“Any coach who says whether someone is a good player doesn’t matter (in such decision-making) is lying,” Dooley said.

One player can do only so much for a team as modestly talented as Dooley’s next one. UT isn’t Auburn of last year. And Jackson isn’t Cam Newton.

His absence or presence won’t determine a championship, but his status is significant. He is a good player on a team that needs all the good players it can get.

Dooley said he has spoken often with Jackson during the offseason. He also has kept his team apprised of the player’s situation and said it supported his decision.

If Jackson does what’s expected of him, the university is apt to readmit him to school this fall. His reinstatement wouldn’t require a waiver from the NCAA, Dooley said.

As good as all of that might sound to fans, his return is hardly a done deal. Dooley stressed the magnitude of Jackson’s challenge when asked if this could have a happy ending.

“I’m hopeful,” he said.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 34

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Personnel certainly makes a difference. I hope our season doesn't come down to one player.

agentorange writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

as your handle suggests, you haven't a clue.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor caught an early flight to heaven to avoid the rush....Witch Doctor say thanks for no one else showing up! Witch Doctor say Macho Man says Janzen will be back and not to eat at the Waffle house of Bearden(?)
Bones never lie.

bnakk#240693 writes:

I like the line about the "happy ending"....

springtx_vol writes:

Doesn't anyone know what Janzen is dealing with without invading one's privacy?

Huttdawg100 writes:

I hope things work out for him. Whatever his issues are, I hope he is working through them. That being said, I think he'll be back because of one thing: The NFL. There's no way he misses that opportunity to play this fall and enter the draft in the spring of 2012; he's not going to give up millions.

Byron Moore is a starter day one. I'm hearing that Eddrick Loften has finally made the grades and will be in Knoxville in a few days for summer workouts. Add those two to the group with Teague, Brewer, Prentiss Waggner, and I think we should be ok. If JJ comes back, things will look a lot better.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor caught an early flight to heaven to avoid the rush....Witch Doctor say thanks for no one else showing up! Witch Doctor say Macho Man says Janzen will be back and not to eat at the Waffle house of Bearden(?)
Bones never lie.

Hilarious!

R.I.P. "Macho Man" Randy Savage. He came from heaven to drop an elbow on the world, and he will be missed.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor caught an early flight to heaven to avoid the rush....Witch Doctor say thanks for no one else showing up! Witch Doctor say Macho Man says Janzen will be back and not to eat at the Waffle house of Bearden(?)
Bones never lie.

Thanks for bringing a smile to my face.

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

I hope things work out for him. Whatever his issues are, I hope he is working through them. That being said, I think he'll be back because of one thing: The NFL. There's no way he misses that opportunity to play this fall and enter the draft in the spring of 2012; he's not going to give up millions.

Byron Moore is a starter day one. I'm hearing that Eddrick Loften has finally made the grades and will be in Knoxville in a few days for summer workouts. Add those two to the group with Teague, Brewer, Prentiss Waggner, and I think we should be ok. If JJ comes back, things will look a lot better.

Where or from who did you hear Eddrick has made the grades?

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to tree_em_smokey:

Where or from who did you hear Eddrick has made the grades?

Here's the tweet:

“@Clmckee86: #Vols two time safety signee Eddrick Loften, told me he will be on campus at the end of the month and has been cleared by the NCAA.”

That was from last week, and it was on scout and gvx247...

Orangeblood13 writes:

I don't see personal issues being a problem,
Family is much deeper than football
Prayers for ya jj

VOL1SG writes:

Whatever the case may be, I hope the young man gets it figured out. I like the fact that CDD is giving this man's family and hime the time to figure it out. We don't know what they are going thru but should respect the fact they are trying to correct it. I hope he comes out of this and plays this fall. It will show a lot of young men the caring and respectful coaching staff we have.
From the past few weeks we have read in the news of young men who did not take care of their problems and suffered for it. Pray for them and their families and that it does not happen to anyone else.
Janzen, if you read this, take care of your business and your family. Life is short and take advantage of all that the Man up stairs has given you. If you decide to come back, kick butt. If not, may God bless you and your family and your future. Keep on keepin' on.

Go VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

VFL!!

tnfanincali writes:

Stoked to hear Lofton may be with the team finally. if he is as good as his high school coach says, he could be a starter this year. or at least see significant playing time..

OwensboroVol writes:

I certainly hope Janzen will be back in the Orange this fall. If He is unable to return I don't believe any NFL team would be willing to risk a draft pick on him next spring. With that in mind, I am almost certain he will be back.

wayoutwill writes:

Dooley has the balls to admit that jj's talent is the only reason that he is still wanted by the vols;got to wonder if busting him on out of here wouldn't be a good message to the team that the b.s. is over with!Screw up and you're gone might save him some trouble over the next few years as oppossed to the message:You may do as you please,IF you're good enuff!Most of the folks close to the program that are really watching up close know that jj has been running wild too long;that he should be gone and the ONLY reason he's still ere is that he is an nfl caliber safety!

VolCrazie5 writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I had heard the same thing.......

dvhill100 writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Still the best handle on the site. I see the video of Vince every time I see your handle.

BrassMonkey writes:

Oh the ever famous, "No one player is bigger than the team." (Unless it's Janzen Jackson)

KevDVol writes:

How many of Kiffin's 4 and 5 star guys are currently on our team?

Who is the most successful? Success being measured by: 1) Being eligible and on a team, 2) Starting, 3) Being all conference or honorable mention.

Is Bryce Brown out in Kansas the leader?

BigVolFaninSC writes:

in response to wayoutwill:

Dooley has the balls to admit that jj's talent is the only reason that he is still wanted by the vols;got to wonder if busting him on out of here wouldn't be a good message to the team that the b.s. is over with!Screw up and you're gone might save him some trouble over the next few years as oppossed to the message:You may do as you please,IF you're good enuff!Most of the folks close to the program that are really watching up close know that jj has been running wild too long;that he should be gone and the ONLY reason he's still ere is that he is an nfl caliber safety!

Now, why do you feel the need to post something like that?! Dooley said that talent is a FACTOR in decisions...meaning there are other factors! He was admitting that it is human nature to consider a talented player over a benchwarmer! Maybe he should have kept this to himself, but personally, I like the admission of honesty! I think we need to step back and realize that Dooley is looking at the entire picture with all the factors (some of which will never be public) and trust his judgement in these matters!...not blind trust, but so far he seems to have a good handle on these types of problems that arise. So, IMO he gets a thumbs up! For whatever reasons (not just talent) he is leaving the door open for Jackson! And we may never know the whole story!...and quite frankly, it's not our business!

Bigger_Al writes:

Uhhh... It took MushChomp two more arrests from its star JJ to finally part ways. Signal to the team: You can't get arrested three times in a year and play for the Gators.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you look at photos of each you might could say there was a resemblance. But if they are related, probably not by Janzen's dad (asst coach at McNeese St) since he has not been mentioned in the articles. The arraignment coincides with December time frame when Janzen went back to Louisiana. Couldn't find a trial date though. As controversial as that case is, it could be awhile before a trial ends. Looks doubtful Janzen will be back this summer (IF..IF..IF this is even the reason). My apologies for even speculating.

govols082859#1369959 writes:

Who wrote this article and attributed it to John Adams?

Volunatic writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm pretty sure "CSS" is actually a Memphis fan.

TennCup writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Got to be more to it than that. Why would that cause JJ to be possibly kicked off the team?

69grad writes:

Let's have the drama of a two-minute drill and leave the soap operas to sports writers and trolls.
VFL

adamsmith5529#630125 writes:

This kid just hates to practice....he will be back this fall

mcvol75 writes:

in response to springtx_vol:

Doesn't anyone know what Janzen is dealing with without invading one's privacy?

From what I understand, he has checked himself into rehab facilities on several. What the nature of his problem is, I won't speculate, but that's my understanding of the situation.

mcvol75 writes:

in response to mcvol75:

From what I understand, he has checked himself into rehab facilities on several. What the nature of his problem is, I won't speculate, but that's my understanding of the situation.

several times..... sorry

Big_Orange writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think you meant prima donna. At least it was phonetic.

Vol43 writes:

The following were words used by cantsatndsaban in a thread concerning the devastating tornado in Alabama.

"I have no dog in your fight as I dont care for either so called Higher Education towns. In the Forbes Top 600 Colleges in America, mostly based on education and success ratio of students, Alabama was ranked number 380 while UT was down at 488. So you may wanna quit the Bama jokes on stupidity. My school Vandy was a delightful number 48, once again Tops of the SEC."

This man's soul is black. He's the worst of all trolls.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually I was referring to Aramis Jackson who is accused of murdering a woman and her 9 year old. That was last September. The link you posted was for for Aramis' brother for a crime committed earlier this month.

None of the articles I have read said anything about those guys parents. Mentions of cousins and a grandmother, yes, but nothing of their parents. Janzen may be related but probably not siblings.

mountainbrook writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The only desperation I see is another weak post by VandyGrad. 2 and 10. Vandy will do it again.

tulelakevol writes:

Wow, can't believe all the speculation on this board. Here is the real story. Janzen is a superhero, and is doing superhero stuff, so he can't be here now. That fits right in with the junk being put up here. Seriously, I wish him the best, and wish everyone would quit making up stuff about his issue.

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