Josh Heupel addresses Jeremy Banks absence from Tennessee loss to South Carolina

Tennessee soccer coach Josh Heupel declined to provide the reason linebacker Jeremy Banks did not play in the Vols’ 63-38 loss to South Carolina.

When asked if Banks had an altercation with a teammate or was serving a suspension, Heupel said, “What it turned out and things like that, it wasn’t available at the end of the day (vs South Carolina).”

Banks, a preseason All-SEC pick and the team’s No. 2 tackler, didn’t make the trip to South Carolina. Before the game, a Tennessee spokesman said his absence was due to an injury.

After the game, Heupel said only that Banks was “unavailable,” but he was “hopeful” the linebacker would be available if Tennessee (9-2, 5-2 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt (5-6, 2- 5) plays. on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

On Monday, Heupel said he anticipates Banks will play Vanderbilt.

There was speculation on sports talk radio and social media that Banks had gotten into an altercation with teammates. On Sunday, Banks appeared to deny those rumors in an Instagram post.

“It wasn’t about no conflict or such nun (sic). Get facts bro come back harder than ever!” Banks booked.

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Banks then shared an Instagram post from the Tennessee football account announcing Hendon Hooker’s ACL tear at the end of the season and thanking the quarterback for being “forever a Tennessee legend and the ultimate teammate.”

Did Tennessee lose to Jeremy Banks?

Banks was among the scapegoats for Tennessee’s unilateral loss. Heupel, defensive coordinator Tim Banks, secondary coach Willie Martinez and defensive backs were some of the others.

The Vols allowed Spencer Rattler to pass for 438 yards, and South Carolina scored the most points against Tennessee of any SEC opponent in school history. Heupel said the pain of the loss should be shared between players who played in the game and others who didn’t.

“This one has to hurt on the way back (to Knoxville),” Heupel said. “It must hurt for people who are not on this journey who will be in our building (Sunday) afternoon and will be there on Monday.”

Banks has 46 tackles, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 10 games. He also touts eight quarterback hurries as Tennessee’s most disruptive blitz linebacker.

The Vols only had a sack and two rushes against South Carolina. But the secondary also struggled to cover wide receivers from the opening drive. The Gamecocks scored touchdowns on nine of 10 possessions that didn’t end on a half.

Reach Adam Sparks at [email protected] and on Twitter @AdamSparks.

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