Asumnu tries football

Tennessee's football program got some added athleticism today when Vol basketball player Stanley Asumnu joined spring practice.

This is not an unprecedented move. Ron Widby signed a basketball scholarship with Tennessee in the 1960s but wound up doubling as the punter in football. He made history by earning All-America recognition in both sports as a senior.

Asumnu, a 6-5, 215-pound senior with eye-popping athleticism, has exhausted his basketball eligibility but could play football next fall if he finds a niche on the team. Given his size and leaping ability, he could make an impact as a kick-blocker. He might be able to help as a receiver and a special teams player, as well.

Stanley will get limited work Friday, then participate full-bore in Saturday's scrimmage.

Vol head coach Phil Fulmer said Asumnu recently contacted him about trying out for the football team, adding: "Certainly from an attitude, size and speed standpoint, it's all positive. He hasn't played since the eighth grade, but there are a lot of guys who have come out of basketball and played football. We'll see how he does."

Asumnu, who attended Westbury Christian Academy in Houston, ranks among the finest pure athletes at UT. He played in 113 games for the Basketball Vols the past four years, making 33 starts. He averaged eight points and three rebounds for the 2005-06 team.

Stanley Asumnu wasn't the only new face at practice today. Ell Ash, who was dismissed from the team Nov. 17 for a violation of team rules, has been allowed to rejoin the team as a non-scholarship player. A native of Willingboro, N.J., Ash was considered one of the better prospects in Tennessee's 2004 recruiting class. He redshirted as a freshman in 2004 and was seeing limited backup action at offensive tackle in 2005 when the dismissal occurred.

Since being dismissed from the football team, Ash has concentrated on track. He is representing Bill Webb's team as a shot put and discus man.

Fulmer does not reinstate dismissed players as a rule but he is making an exception in Ash's case.

"Some of the players on our unity council and some of our academic advisors approached me about giving him a second chance," the coach said. "Ell has convinced me he is serious about it. He has made apologies to the team and the appropriate coaches.

"He seems to have a very good attitude but there are no promises about whether he wants to be on the team. We're going to take these six practices and see how he does."

Although Fulmer apparently has forgiven Ash for his previous transgression, the coach hasn't forgotten it.

"If he stays," the head man said, "he will pay his own way."

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