Varcellus Bell, who transferred from Georgia Tech to Georgia Southern this month, has left the team and returned to Augusta, coach Paul Johnson said.
Bell (Laney High) rode home last weekend with teammate Derrick Reeves (Butler), and when Reeves called to make arrangements for the return trip, Bell said he wasn't going.
"He said he just didn't have that love for the game any more, and once you lose that, there's not too much you can do," said Reeves, a senior defensive tackle. "I think he felt a lot of pressure on him. He had been hurt. It was just a frustrating experience. He said he wasn't getting any sleep. If you don't love it, there's no need to be out there."
Bell, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound defensive end, signed with Georgia Tech in 1995 and redshirted that year. He played in five games last year, making one tackle.
"We were counting on him playing some special teams and possibly stepping in next year," Johnson said. "I think he was a little discouraged. He might have misdiagnosed the level."
OUT: Tennessee's defensive line will be a little thinner for tonight's opener with Texas Tech (ESPN, 7:30) after tackle Buck Buxton (Burke County) was suspended indefinitely.
Buxton, a senior, was suspended for a violation of team rules, reportedly for a successful wrestling bout with a Coke machine. He had also missed more than a week of practice while recovering from a stress fracture in his leg.
On the other hand, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said senior offensive guard Mercedes Hamilton (Burke County) has moved into the starting lineup ahead of Diron Robinson and freshman safety Deon Grant (Josey) could see some action.
Grant is listed at No. 3 at free safety, and he will be one of 10 freshmen Fulmer said will play this year.
RUNNING HARD: Folks say some engines purr, but this is certainly taking things a step further.
A bright orange Clemson Tiger Paw will adorn the hood and quarterpanels of Ward Burton's No. 22 MBNA Pontiac in Sunday's Mountain Dew 500 at Darlington Raceway.
In 1994, Clemson initiated a motorsports engineering program in its mechanical engineering curriculum, and two of the current graduate students, Jon Lampert and Brad Eichenlaub, will be guests of the Bill Davis racing team in the garage and on pit road at Darlington. Later in this semester, Davis' MBNA team will host a daylong session for Clemson's motorsports students at the team's shop in High Point, N.C.
SELECT GROUP: Clemson's Anthony Simmons, South Carolina's Troy Hambrick, Georgia Tech's Keith Brooking and Ron Rogers Georgia's Greg Bright and Brandon Tolbert have been named to the preliminary list of candidates for the Butkus Award, which annually is presented to the nation's outstanding collegiate linebacker.
Auburn's Takeo Spikes (Washington County) is one of the favorites, along with Andy Katzenmoyer of Ohio State and Penn State's Aaron Collins.
POOCH PUNTS: Former Wrens High (now Jefferson County) star Harold Farmer has transferred from Eastern Kentucky to West Georgia. ... Believe it or not. With 44 victories, North Carolina has more wins the last five seasons than Notre Dame (43) or Michigan (42). ... Talk about taking it easy. Mississippi State plays its first four games, and six of its first seven, at home. What could destroy the Bulldogs, however, is a three-game stretch beginning Nov. 1 which takes them to Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas in the span of four weeks. ... Georgia Southern's Cherard Freeman (Lincoln County) has been moved from cornerback, where he lettered last year, to slotback.
Houston at Alabama, 12:30 p.m.
Southern Miss. at Florida, 6 p.m.
Arkansas St. at Georgia, 1 p.m.
Louisville at Kentucky, 1:30 p.m.
Cent. Florida at Mississippi, 7 p.m.
Memphis at Mississippi St., 7 p.mm.
Texas Tech at Tennessee, 7:30 p.m.
North Texas at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m.
N.C. State at Syracuse, noon
Valdosta St. at Ga. Southern, 1 p.m.
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Tennessee State at Florida A&M
Virginia State at Norfolk State
Hampton at William & Mary
N.C. Central at N.C. A&T