When Tennessee parted ways with signee Jabo Lee last week, the South Carolina running back told a local newspaper “everything was good.’’
Lee also said via Twitter, “all respect to Tennessee.’’
His high school coach isn’t quite as conciliatory about the way things worked out.
Jackie Hayes, coach at Dillon High School in Dillon, S.C., said Monday he was “upset” at the way UT handled Lee.
“I think they just left him out to dry,’’ Hayes said.
Lee flipped his commitment from East Carolina to Tennessee right before signing day in February, responding to a late push spearheaded by running backs coach Jay Graham.
Shortly after signing day, Graham left for Florida State and was replaced by Robert Gillespie.
Lee, a three-star prospect, lacked the standardized test score to qualify. Through the spring and into summer, the assumption was that he would not be admitted to school. He is not listed in UT’s 2013 media guide.
In June, however, Lee made the test score on his last try, Hayes said.
Then, last week, Lee revealed he would be attending a four-year school, but it wouldn’t be UT.
That school will be Temple, Hayes said.
Dillon assistant coach Kelvin Roller was upset enough to contact the News Sentinel on Monday. Roller said the Vols were casting Lee aside because they had recruited other prospects for the class of 2014.
“I don’t think this is a good way of doing business,’’ Hayes said. “They told him the whole time all he had to do is make the test score.
“Last Wednesday they called him and said he can’t get through admissions. He graduated from high school in December. They’ve had his transcript since January. Looks like they’d know whether he could get through admissions.’’
UT released Lee from his Letter of Intent, which means he can be put on scholarship at Temple.
Coach Butch Jones and a Tennessee spokesman both declined to comment about Lee’s situation.
Hayes said that in May, Lee was on UT’s campus and it was discovered he had a torn anterior cruciate ligament that would require surgery and, thus, a redshirt season. It’s not clear if the ACL dated to Lee’s knee injury in the opening game of his senior season or had occurred since then.
“I think what happened,’’ Hayes said, “is they got some (higher rated) recruits for 2014.’’
Hayes said the only person he had heard from at UT was an administrator in the football office.
“Don’t you think it would be better,’’ Hayes said, “if the head coach or running backs coach called me up and said, ‘We’ve got a problem here?’ ”
Hayes did appreciate UT helping Lee find a new school.
“To give credit where it’s due, somebody at Tennessee knew somebody up there and called Temple,’’ Hayes said. “Jabo’s (originally) from up in New Jersey so maybe it’s a good fit.’’
Hayes, however, questioned whether any of his prospects would be a good fit at UT. The Vols have already offered Dillon’s Class of 2016 quarterback, Avery McCall, according to Hayes and several recruiting services.
“There wouldn’t be no use for (Tennessee recruiters) to come back to Dillon,’’ Hayes said.