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Tennessee's Pruitt says LB Sapp remains part of team

(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

By STEVE MEGARGEE

AP Sports Writer

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt says linebacker Quart'e Sapp remains a part of the team after the coach and linebacker offered conflicting accounts of a sideline incident.

Pruitt had said Saturday after Tennessee's 47-21 loss to Florida that he asked Sapp to leave the sideline after the linebacker refused a request to enter the game. Sapp tweeted Sunday that "I never was asked nor did I ever refuse to go into the game."

Pruitt said Monday he has since spoken with Sapp. Pruitt offered no details on the conversation but said "everybody makes mistakes" and "we're going to move on and we'll go from there."

"I've coached at a lot of places, and I've seen things like this happen before," Pruitt said. "I've seen guys not show up to practice on Tuesday, not show up to practice on Wednesday. When you're dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds and there's lots of things going on, things happen. Quart'e has been nothing but a great ambassador for our program, a really good student and (has) been a good leader for our team."

Sapp started eight games last season and made 78 tackles to rank fourth on the team, but he hasn't been as big a factor this year. The redshirt junior from Alpharetta, Georgia has no solo tackles and three assists, which all came in a season-opening 40-14 loss to No. 12 West Virginia.

"He's a great person, great player," senior defensive end Kyle Phillips said. "I'm not sure what happened Saturday, but personally I know he's a great guy."

This situation comes as Tennessee enters the toughest part of its schedule.

Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC) visits No. 2 Georgia (4-0, 2-0) on Saturday. The Vols have the following week off before visiting No. 10 Auburn and hosting No. 1 Alabama.

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Updated September 24, 2018

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