Putting a Positive Spin on Janzen Jackson Leaving Tennessee
Tennessee football was hit with bad news today when Janzen Jackson was dismissed from the team.
This definitely hurts Tennessee's standing in the SEC and may reduce Tennessee to another six-win season, but every dark cloud has a silver lining.
There are positive things to take away from this.
First of all, it may not hurt Tennessee as badly as you may think. Dooley has had every defensive back learn all the positions, and despite Jackson's return to Tennessee only a month ago, Prentiss Waggner has still spent most of his time playing at safety.
This tells me one thing: Derek Dooley saw this coming.
Whatever Janzen Jackson's personal problems are (I've heard rumors, but it would be irresponsible to repeat them here), they're obviously serious enough for Dooley to continue practicing his team as if Jackson weren't there.
Jackson was one of the best players on the team and almost definitely the best player on the defense, but Waggner is more of a ball hawk than Jackson was, so he may end up being the better starter at free safety anyway.
Waggner caught five interceptions last year, turned three of those into touchdowns, and was a second-team All-American. Playing free safety may suit his skill set better than cornerback did.
Second, Tennessee's breakout year looks to be 2012, and having Jackson off the team will help the defense then. Even if Jackson had stayed on the team this year, he would have bolted for the NFL, and he'd have to be replaced along with Prentiss Waggner.
With Jackson gone that means another underclassman will have to take the field, which means one more returning starter on defense in 2012.
Everyone knew Tennessee's offense was going to be phenomenal in 2012, but the defense looked questionable. Now, it looks as though Tennessee's defense will need to replace only four starters (Waggner, Austin Johnson, Malik Jackson, and Herman Lathers) instead of five (and that's assuming that they all leave for the draft).
Finally, Jackson's departure allows the Vols to move on completely from the Lane Kiffin era.
Jackson was one of the last big-name Kiffin recruits, and it's no secret he had disciplinary issues, having taken part in a robbery in 2009.
Dooley seems to be after high-character guys, and although I hate to pass judgment without knowing all the facts, Jackson doesn't seem to fit that mold.
For Dooley to dismiss his best defensive player for personal issues, they had to have been bad, and I'm sure keeping him around would've hurt the team in the long term.
Having Jackson out hurts Tennessee now, but it may help them in the future.
I hope that, whatever his personal issues are, he'll be able to deal with them and find success again, but it doesn't appear that will be happening at Tennessee.
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