KNOXVILLE – Tennessee defensive tackle Maurice “Mo” Couch will be held out of the Oregon game this Saturday due to eligibility concerns, coach Butch Jones confirmed in a radio interview on Thursday evening.
Couch was the only active player named in a Yahoo! Sports report published Wednesday on SEC players who received impermissible benefits. According to the report, Couch was paid a total of $1,350 by former Alabama defensive Luther Davis, who allegedly worked as an intermediary between college football players and NFL agents and financial advisers.
Couch has been held out of practice this week since Tuesday. Jones initially said Couch’s absence was due to heat exhaustion.
“As of right now, the situation with Mo Couch is we’ve declared him ineligible for this game,” Jones told 104.5 in Nashville on Thursday. “Right now our compliance group is currently in the process of working through all the details and logistics of the situation. That’s all we kind of know right now, but as of right now moving forward, he will not make the trip to Oregon.”
Couch, a former starter, has been an important part of UT’s defensive line rotation this season, recording four tackles and a sack through two games. He has been listed as the backup behind Daniel Hood.
Originally a junior college transfer, Couch has piled up 79 tackles and 3.5 sacks in just over two seasons for the Vols.
His absence likely means increased playing time for reserves Danny O’Brien and Trevarris Saulsberry. Other scholarship options to play behind starters Daniel McCullers and Hood include Greg Clark, Jason Carr and Allan Carson.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga