Star defensive player for Tennessee Volunteers, James Pearce Jr., arrested on multiple charges following uncooperative traffic stop

 December 5, 2023

A star defensive player for the University of Tennessee's football program is in hot water and facing criminal charges after he was arrested on Monday, according to the Associated Press.

James Pearce Jr., a top defensive end for the Volunteers, was surrounded by police officers, placed in handcuffs, and hit with multiple citations after he was reportedly uncooperative during a traffic stop.

Pulled over for speeding with expired temporary tags

Local ABC affiliate WATE reported that Pearce was pulled over around 9:22 a.m. after a Knoxville Police Department officer reportedly observed a red Jeep Cherokee passing vehicles on the right-hand side and clocked it as speeding at 63 mph in a 35 mph zone.

The officer further noted that the vehicle had expired temporary tags out of North Carolina, that Pearce was unable to provide any form of identification or proof of auto insurance, and that a subsequent check revealed that Pearce was driving on a suspended North Carolina driver's license.

While Pearce may have been able to escape that situation with only a few traffic citations, his reported behavior toward Knoxville Police during the stop ultimately led to his being arrested and the vehicle impounded.

Player was reportedly uncooperative with police

According to ESPN, a Knoxville Police Department incident report revealed that Pearce had to be instructed multiple times by an officer to turn off the ignition and step out of the vehicle before the star football player eventually complied with the order.

As officers began to search the vehicle before it was towed due to the expired tags, Pearce was directed to stand in front of a police cruiser with other officers who had arrived, but he reportedly ignored that order and began to walk back toward his vehicle while officers looked for anything that might be dangerous or illegal.

However, the other officers then swarmed Pearce and placed him under arrest without any further incident, after which the vehicle was impounded and he was transported to the Knox County Detention Facility to be booked.

Pearce now faces multiple charges that include speeding, driving with a suspended license, failure to present proof of insurance, not properly displaying vehicle registration, and having improper tint on the vehicle's windows.

Third Vols player to be arrested or cited for traffic violations this season

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that an unnamed spokesperson for the University of Tennessee said of the arrest in a statement, "We are aware of the incident involving James Pearce Jr., and we are awaiting more information."

Per the outlet, Pearce is the third member of the Volunteers' football squad to be arrested or receive citations during a traffic stop this season.

On Nov. 19, Vols cornerback Doneiko Slaughter was cited for reckless driving and improper lane change after he was seen driving over a median divider, while backup running back DeSean Bishop was ticketed for reckless driving in the early morning hours of Oct. 29.

Pearce is scheduled to appear in court to face his charges on Dec. 12, while Slaughter and Bishop have court dates set for Dec. 6 and Jan. 19, respectively.

It is an ignominious end to a stellar season for the sophomore defensive end who was a highly recruited four-star prospect out of North Carolina -- he was voted to be part of the all-SEC first team -- and potentially threatens his ability to participate in the Vols' upcoming appearance in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Jan. 1.

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