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Colquitt kicks off clean slate

For the moment, Britton Colquitt can only hope for a chance to wear the Orange and White and someday be remembered for helping the Tennessee Volunteers recapture the football glory days of the mid- to late-’90s.

Leonard Little, UT star defensive end and current NFL standout with the St. Louis Rams, helped mold those Big Orange years of regular top-10 national finishes leading to the 1998 national championship.

Do you suppose that Colquitt , 19, is envious of Little, who twice earned All-SEC honors and who now earns a nice pro football paycheck with one of the NFL’s better teams?

Think again. Little’s drinking problem behind the wheel of a car resulted in the death of a St. Louis woman in 1999. Facing vehicular homicide charges, Little pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Though Colquitt’s drinking and driving problem has been embarrassing and is still legally unresolved, no permanent damage has been done. His problem first surfaced last fall, extended into February 2004 and resulted in charges of underage drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol.

And though this UT kicking wannabe’s Big Orange future is in limbo pending final legal hurdles his family hopes will be cleared up this week, Britton Colquitt said he’s totally turned his life around.

Saying it was the worst time of his life, “like around when it happened,” Britton added that “what’s become of it has, like, really been the best part of my life. It’s changed who I am and who God wants me to be.

“It is scary to read about yourself and see these things, and what an impact you have,” he added. “Then you kind of realize if you’re doing what’s right, and living the way you’re supposed to, then you can have the same impact on the same people.”

As for his influence on young kids, “that was the hardest part for me,” the former Bearden High School football punting and placekicking standout and star soccer forward said. “Since I’m from here and I’m a big part of the community, I know a bunch of kids from my church, and parents, and I really felt like I didn’t just let myself and God down, I felt like I let them down.

“But that’s my motivation and stuff, to get back and change who I was and everything for the kids and stuff because they’re who’s watching,” he added. “Little eyes are always watching.”

With Britton hoping to be the latest of a long line of Colquitt kicking talent at UT, former Vol and Pittsburg Steelers Super Bowl champion punter Craig Colquitt said his son has come a long way since February.

“Everybody hits something in their life, and when you hit the bottom it’s how high you bounce back up,” Craig said. “He’s done a really great job of evaluating what he put himself through, the family and the team. We’re real happy with the adjustment he’s made because instead of being real upset and angry about what happened and blaming everybody in the world, he blamed himself and got right with his spiritual side, and not just doing it to look good.

“He’s genuinely found a spiritual side of him he didn’t know existed,” Craig added. “What we’re seeing is (the equivalent of) a twenty-five year-old who now finally realizes mom (Anne) and dad aren’t as dumb as he thought they were.”

Craig said Britton is a better person “because he’s slowed down, he’s evaluating things much better. He’s seen what he’s done, what a wasted opportunity that could have been.”

Britton’s rehabilitation process included a trip to a prison and a youth correctional facility. “They have to be in their cell for twenty-three hours a day, It was just amazing, and like the stories they had,” Britton said of his candid view of what could lie ahead if he were to backslide. “It was good because I had a story too, but not nearly as bad as them. I could somewhat relate to them, and it shows you how far is too far.”

“He’s done quite a bit of community service,” the senior Colquitt said about how his son is making legal amends. “He had to visit a probation officer, and he had to go to counseling. And he’s complied with all of that, and the report back from the counselor was that he wasn’t a problem kid, an angry kid or anything like that.

“Because of what all he’s doing, we’re hoping those (charges) can be reduced,” Craig added. “He just got caught up in the hoopla of Big Orange.”

In addition to strong family support, Craig Colquitt pointed to one of Britton’s uncles, Mike Davis, as being especially helpful in helping Britton find his way. “He took great interest in Britton, and Mike is well-versed on difficult directions and guidance … I would chalk that up as probably the best turn for Britton, the best help ... the best tool in the whole bag. Britton’s received hundreds of friends (messages) and phone calls and family, people just concerned.”

If the legal hurdles are cleared, is Britton capable of refocusing on football?

“I’ve been working out with the team, and running,” the younger Colquitt said. “And the past couple of weeks I’ve probably kicked, like, three or four times a week. Sometimes with Dustin (Britton’s older brother and UT’s All-SEC senior punter) and the other kickers and the snappers, and sometimes on my own. So I’ve been able to kick a lot, and everything’s worked out for the best.”


As for the seemingly slow legal process, “The intention of it being put off was to see what he was going to do,” Craig said. “If he was in fact a troubled kid and going to keep continuing this, or what. So that’s what the (delay) is for, just to see if this is habitual and if he was going down a slippery slope ... to see what kind of character he really has. To see if Britton can turn his life around.”

Despite the apparent turnaround, “The district attorney’s going to do exactly what he wants, we have no dog in that hunt,” Craig added. “We’re just hopeful. And we’ll deal with it when it is decided.”


Colquitt is looking to officially join the Volunteers after signing with UT in the spring of 2003 just prior to graduating from BHS.

According to Craig, UT head coach Phillip Fulmer is demanding that the legal issues be resolved “before camp starts (early August), that must be done.

“He’s met with Britton ... Fulmer is very supportive, and he’s father to these guys for the most part … And Britton’s (actions) are minor in comparison to some, I’m sure.

“But they were repetitive, that’s why he’s had to go through what he’s gone through to satisfy the court and satisfy Fulmer,” Craig added. “As far as Fulmer’s concerned he has, but it must be resolved (legally) before he’ll allow him to don the orange.”

Britton said, “I’ve talked to a bunch of the coaches, and everybody knows what I’ve been doing and how I’m changed, and they’re really proud and everything. The main thing with coach Fulmer now is just getting all the court stuff over with. He wants it resolved. They’re going to be welcoming me back and know that I’m going to be a positive influence instead of a negative influence.”


If Britton is officially reinstated, Craig said his son “would like to get going” this season and maybe, in a best case scenario, be the Vols’ kick-off man in 2004.

Britton said, “I’m pretty confident I’ll be on the roster. The plan is to red-shirt, but there’s also a possibility of doing kickoffs, maybe. That’s kind of what I’m working on right now.”


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