Tennessee football's Jaylen McCollough asserts innocence in aggravated assault

Liz Kellar
Knoxville News Sentinel

UPDATE, OCT. 21, 2022: Tennessee safety Jaylen McCollough will not be subject to any sanctions by the University of Tennessee stemming from his arrest earlier this month on a charge of aggravated assault, his attorney told Knox News on Friday.

"After a thorough investigation into allegations related to an incident occurring on October 9th, 2022, Jaylen McCollough has resolved this matter with the University of Tennessee’s Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards," attorney Chloe Akers said in a statement.

"As part of an Alternative Resolution Agreement, there was no finding of responsibility against Mr. McCollough for any violations of the University’s Code of Conduct. He remains fully enrolled as a student without suspension or probation."

Knox News has obtained the Knoxville police report following the arrest of Tennessee football player Jaylen McCollough on an aggravated assault charge.

McCollough's attorney also released a statement in which the starting safety maintains his innocence. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next month.

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What led to McCollough's arrest?

Around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Knoxville police responded to a call at an apartment at 2030 Grand Ave., the incident report stated. A man with a bloody, swollen mouth and multiple broken and missing teeth said he had been drinking with friends who live in the complex when he went to get items from a vehicle, according to the arrest warrant.

The man said when he returned, he accidentally went to the wrong building. He knocked on the door but no one answered. So he opened the unlocked door and entered the apartment.

When he realized he had entered the wrong apartment, he told police he apologized and left. He said a man pursued him and became aggressive. He apologized again but also told the man he "didn't have to be a (expletive) about it." The pursuing man then punched him in the face, and he fell backward down the stairs and lost consciousness.

This photo from the KPD incident report shows blood on the staircase after the victim was allegedly punched by Jaylen McCollough.

Police found blood on the stairs leading to the top floor of the building, where the apartment was located. They also spoke to a woman who said she was McCollough’s girlfriend. She called McCollough back to the scene, and he arrived with a bloody bandage on his right hand.

This photo from the Knoxville Police Department incident report shows Jaylen McCollough's bandaged hand.

McCollough did not answer any questions, the report said, and he was taken into custody without incident.

What criminal prosecution does McCollough face?

McCollough, 22, was charged with felony aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a Class C felony, which carries a potential sentence of three to 15 years.

McCollough was booked into county jail and had an initial arraignment before being released on a $2,500 bond. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing into the evidence against him on Nov. 18.

“Mr. McCollough is cooperating fully with both the University of Tennessee and Knoxville Police Department investigations into these allegations," said his attorney, Chloe Akers, in a prepared statement Tuesday. "He looks forward to a speedy resolution of this matter and maintains his complete innocence.”

What does this mean for Saturday's game?

McCollough, 21, is a four-year starter for the Vols. This season he is tied for fourth on the team with 23 tackles. He had seven tackles in Tennessee's 40-13 win over LSU in Baton Rouge on Saturday.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) carries against Tennessee defensive back Jaylen McCollough in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

No. 8 Tennessee (5-0, 2-0 SEC) will play No. 1 Alabama (6-0, 3-0) on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS) at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel has not said whether McCollough will play against Alabama.

"We have not (made a decision on McCollough's status) yet," Heupel said on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday. "Our administration is handling most of that. We'll have conversations with them here as they continue to gather information and make a decision on the back end of the week."

If McCollough does not play, it would cause Tennessee more problems in the defensive secondary. The Vols are ranked No. 128 among 131 FBS teams in pass defense, and they've already lost starting cornerback Warren Burrell to a season-ending injury.

McCollough leads the team with 353 snaps played on defense, according to Pro Football Focus.