Mapu delays mission, will play in '03

J.T. Mapu

Tennessee's defensive outlook for 2003 just got a little brighter.

Head football coach Phillip Fulmer confirmed this morning that freshman defensive end Jonathan "J.T." Mapu will play for the Vols in the fall, postponing his Mormon mission until January of 2004.

Speaking by phone on a radio talk show hosted by former Vol aide Doug Mathews and Bob Bell, Fulmer cited financial considerations as the reason for Mapu's decision. His parents already have one child serving a Mormon mission, which involves a monthly stipend. By waiting until January of 2004 for Jonathan to begin his mission, the Mapus will avoid having two children on mission at the same time.

J.T. Mapu, a 6-3, 265-pounder from Kahuku, Hawaii, played in all 12 of UT's regular-season games as a true freshman last fall, recording four tackles and five assists. His return will bolster a position which must replace 2002 starters Demetrin Veal and Omari Hand.

UT now features veteran ends Constantin Ritzmann, Karlton Neal, Parys Haralson, Mapu and Jason Hall. Incoming freshmen Turk McBride and Tony McDaniel also will compete for playing time at end.

On the same show, Fulmer said he hopes to fill the staff vacancy created by Mike Barry's recent departure within the next two weeks. The Vol coach expressed confidence that Jimmy Ray Stephens can handle the entire offensive line, subsequently hinting that he's looking for a tight ends coach or assistant line coach who is a quality recruiter. Ideally, Fulmer said he would like to hire someone with recruiting contacts in the Northeast.

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