Taylor among Vols' six academically ineligible players for Outback Bowl
The hits keep coming for Tennessee's football team, as coach Phillip Fulmer announced Friday that six scholarship players would be academically ineligible for the Outback Bowl.
The Vols' leading receiver, Lucas Taylor, is ineligible to play against Wisconsin on Jan. 1 as well as reserve receiver Kenny O'Neal, reserve defensive back Ricardo Kemp and freshman linebacker Chris Donald. ESPN.com reported on Thursday that defensive starters Demonte Bolden and Rico McCoy failed to meet the necessary academic requirements to play in the Outback Bowl, too.
"We have every resource available through our academic center for academic success by our athletes in all of our sports," Fulmer said in a statement. "In most of these cases, it was simply the student-athlete not being accountable and doing their work. In Lucas' case, however, he passed enough hours, but a new NCAA policy that went into effect this fall made him ineligible. One bright spot is the fact that all of these athletes will be in school spring semester."
The new policy that Fulmer referenced in his statement requires all student-athletes to pass six hours within the specified grade requirements of each individual major.
Taylor caught 73 passes for 1,000 yards and five touchdowns this season and was quarterback Erik Ainge's favorite target. Kemp was a regular in the Vols' "Mustang" package at cornerback when they went to six defensive backs.
McCoy, a sophomore, has also started each game this season and is second on the team with 106 tackles. Bolden, a junior, started all 12 of the games he played, but was suspended against Louisiana-Lafayette for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Kemp has played in every game this season and has two sacks. O'Neal caught two passes for a total of 59 yards this season.
Twelve football players graduated earlier this month with bachelor's degrees and another earned his master's degree. Forty players had a semester grade point average of 3.0 or better, and 15 earned a GPA of 3.5 or better.
"I am proud of the young men that did a job well done," Fulmer said.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Chris Low is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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