Sep 21, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Alton Howard (2) catches the ball for a touchdown during the second half against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Alton 'Pig' Howard takes leave of absence from Tennessee Volunteers

The Tennessee Volunteers begin their second spring practice under head coach Butch Jones on Friday, but they won’t have their leading receiver from a year ago as Alton “Pig” Howard is taking a leave of absence from the team as he is “dealing with some personal circumstances.”

Howard led Tennessee with 44 receptions and three touchdowns as a sophomore. His 388 yards were second to true freshman Marquez North‘s 498.

The 5-8, 185-pounder was expected to be a security blanket for whoever wins the quarterback job between leading contenders Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson, but if he doesn’t return to the team in the fall, look for junior college transfer Von Pearson to be the beneficiary of the open spot on the depth chart.

The future of Howard is cloudy at best at the moment, but it would be premature to write him off for the rest of his career as he is still enrolled in classes and hopefully he is able to work through his personal circumstances and help the Vols in their rebuilding effort.

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