UT football players, recruits and coach react online to George Zimmerman verdict

George Zimmerman (Associated Press photo)

When George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges after a highly publicized three-week trial, the news provoked angry reaction among some members of Tennessee’s football team.

Junior offensive linemen Antonio “Tiny” Richardson was one of several players to react immediately on Twitter.

Some Tennessee recruits and verbal commitments also weighed in, including Jerome Dews, who posed with an iced tea and a bag of Skittles, the items Trayvon Martin was carrying when he was shot by Zimmerman.


The most poignant response came from Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie. The tweet was deleted about an hour later.


Coaches are often dissuaded from weighing in on controversial or political topics, and I give Gillespie credit for having the courage to share his opinion — even though he likely knew there would be some backlash.

There may have been a few positive messages of support, but I couldn’t find any among the dozens of responses I scanned.


The reactions highlight one of the interesting sociological aspects of college football in the South: A fan base that is overwhelmingly white and fairly conservative, and student-athletes (and many coaches) who are African-American.

On days like this, the vast gulf in perspectives, life experiences and perhaps politics can be plainly clear.