KNOXVILLE - Four Tennessee football players and head coach Butch Jones went to visit T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital at Erlanger Health Systems in Chattanooga following Monday’s fatal school bus crash.
Redshirt junior running back Alvin Kamara, senior linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, junior defensive end Derek Barnett and Butch Jones’ son redshirt freshman kicker Alex Jones visited the hospital on Wednesday morning.
“We talk about resolve and resiliency, is talking with these parents, how brave they are. Seeing it firsthand, it makes you feel helpless as an individual,” Butch Jones said Wednesday at his biweekly news conference. “It’s something I’ll always cherish, I’ll always remember. It’s the least that we can do.”
Jones said he plans to “do something special” for the children involved in the crash at halftime of Tennessee’s Orange and White spring game. UT has not set a date for the Orange and White game as of Wednesday afternoon.
“You walk into a room, and there’s a little girl who can’t talk, but she sees you and her eyes light up. She’s in a cast and she’s giving you a thumbs up,” Butch Jones said. “That’s something I’ll remember, I know our players will remember, for a lifetime.”
Six students have died as a result of Monday’s crash. Five students remain in Erlanger Hospital as of Wednesday night.
Butch Jones said he would continue to pray for the victims and the community impacted by Monday’s crash.
During the news conference, Butch Jones also responded to Barnett getting left off national individual player awards, most notably the Bednarik Award.
“I don’t want to take away from anyone else that was nominated for these national awards, but I don’t know what else an individual has to do,” Butch Jones said. “I think you’d be hard-pressed anywhere in the country to find anybody better or more deserving than Derek Barnett.”
Barnett is the only player in SEC history to record 10 or more sacks in three separate seasons. He is also one sack away from tying Reggie White’s Tennessee record of 32 career sacks.
Tennessee senior defensive lineman LaTroy Lewis and junior safety Todd Kelly Jr. are both game-time decisions for Saturday night’s game against Vanderbilt, according to Butch Jones.
Butch Jones said both Lewis and Kelly would attempt to practice Wednesday.
“This isn’t the National Football League. We’re not going to claim anyone off waivers,” Butch Jones said. “We have who we have.”
Sophomore offensive lineman Chance Hall practiced Tuesday too.
Kickoff at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville between Tennessee and Vanderbilt is set for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday. The game airs on the SEC Network.
Tennessee leads the series against Vanderbilt 75-29-5.
(© 2017 WBIR)