KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee defensive lineman Alexis Johnson has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault and false imprisonment.
Johnson's lawyer, Gregory Isaacs, said "the reason why is because he is not guilty" after Tuesday's arraignment. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 21.
University of Tennessee police say Johnson was "play-fighting" with a woman Feb. 14, and it escalated until he placed his hands around her throat two to three times. The woman told police that as she attempted to leave the bedroom, Johnson blocked the door. The woman also said she and Johnson had previously dated two times and she had had sex with him once.
Johnson is suspended from all team-related activities.
The woman is among eight plaintiffs suing Tennessee over its handling of assault complaints involving athletes.