Brown no longer a part of Vols' team

There had been some rumblings this offseason that sophomore running back Bryce Brown might be pondering a transfer from Tennessee, possibly to Kansas State to join his brother.

Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but he's no longer a part of Tennessee's team, and there's no reason to believe at this point that he will return.

“Bryce Brown came to me today and indicated he’s dealing with a lot of personal and family problems right now,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said Thursday after the Vols' first practice of the spring. “As of right now, he’s not a part of the team. It doesn’t mean we’ve kicked him off by any means. We want Bryce here, but my focus really is on the 85 guys who are here and who have great spirit about the direction of the program.

“(He has) concerns that I believe stem from -- and he told me stem from -- No.1, some of the reasons why he came here, and No. 2, his experience over the first six months he has been here.”

Brown was one of the top-rated running back prospects in the country last year when he signed with the Vols under then-coach Lane Kiffin. Brown arrived with huge expectations and played behind Montario Hardesty as a freshman. He showed flashes, but also battled injuries.

But with Dooley taking over, he made it clear that it was going to be an open competition this spring at running back, and the thought among many in the program was that Tauren Poole might be the best of the bunch.

Sophomore David Oku and redshirt freshman Toney Williams will also be part of the Vols' running back equation.

Dooley admitted that he was surprised when Brown approached him Thursday morning.

"He went through the entire offseason, but I also think this wasn’t just something from the last three weeks," Dooley said. "This is something that was probably six months, but I’m not here to recruit (players on the team). I’m here to coach."