Big Ten: Ishmyl Johnson

Two more Spartans players charged

January, 26, 2010
1/26/10
2:00
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The problems at Michigan State continue as two more football players have been charged with misdemeanor assault and conspiracy in connection with a Nov. 22 incident at an on-campus residence hall.

Junior defensive tackle Oren Wilson and redshirt freshman wide receiver Myles White both face assault and conspiracy charges. Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio on Tuesday indefinitely suspended both players from all football-related activities. Both Wilson and White must turn themselves in for arraignment.

"As with the previously suspended players, their status with the team will be re-evaluated on a case-by-case basis as their legal issues are resolved," Dantonio said in a statement issued through the school's sports information department.

Eleven players now have been charged in the incident, which took place during a fraternity potluck function held the same night of Michigan State's team banquet. Four other players were suspended from the team for being present at the residence hall, though none faces charges.

Wilson started for Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2, while White was suspended for the game for an unrelated incident. Dantonio, through a spokesman, said he didn't know Wilson and White were present at the residence hall until being notified of the forthcoming charges late last week. Though the suspensions were announced Tuesday, the punishments went into effect last week.

Dantonio handed down suspensions or dismissals for all the other players identified as being at the residence hall before the Alamo Bowl. Players were given opportunities to come forward about their involvement in the incident, but both Wilson and White declined to do so. MSU police in early December identified 10 suspects in the assault and were hoping to identify five more. Now we know that all 15 suspects were football players.

Still, it's troubling that more than two months have passed before Spartans coaches knew Wilson and White were involved.

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings told the Lansing State Journal: "MSU Police has wonderful investigators and to me, it was never a question of if these two individuals were going to be identified, just a question of when."

Here's the breakdown of what's happening with the 15 players:
  • Running back Glenn Winston and safety Roderick Jenrette, who face charges and had previous legal issues, have been dismissed from the team.
  • Running back Ashton Leggett pleaded guilty Jan. 14 to two counts of misdemeanor assault as part of a plea agreement in which a more serious conspiracy charge against him was dropped. Leggett since has transferred to Illinois State. Defensive end Jamiihr Williams, who also faces charges, will transfer as well.
  • Brynden Trawick and Ishmyl Johnson, who were suspended for being at the residence hall but not charged, are transferring.
  • Five players who face charges -- cornerback Chris L. Rucker, offensive lineman J'Michael Deane and wide receivers, Mark Dell, B.J. Cunningham and Fred Smith -- had their pretrial hearings postponed earlier this month. Dantonio allowed them to attend a team meeting several weeks ago, but their ultimate status will be determined after the legal process concludes. Wilson and White both are now in the same boat as these players.
  • Donald Spencer and Chris D. Rucker were suspended but not charged and attended a team meeting earlier this month.

Obviously, this remains a messy situation for Dantonio and Michigan State, which could be without a sizable chunk of the roster when spring practice begins.

MSU reinstates suspended players

January, 13, 2010
1/13/10
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Mark Dantonio wanted to put a positive spin on today's season wrap-up news conference, but the Michigan State coach couldn't avoid the elephant in the room.

The recent wave of player suspensions and dismissals remains the top story around Michigan State, though linebacker Greg Jones' return to school is significant as well. Dantonio has reinstated seven players suspended following a Nov. 22 assault at a campus residence hall, five of whom are facing misdemeanor assault and conspiracy charges.

The suspended players who remain at Michigan State were allowed to attend a recent team meeting when the squad assembled following winter break.

"They have been outside of the football facility and everything to do with football for the last six or seven weeks," Dantonio said. "And at this point in time, we are going to welcome them back into that environment for clarity purposes. They are on our football team."

Four suspended players, including two who face charges stemming from the residence hall incident, have transferred from Michigan State. A total of nine players were charged Dec. 10 with misdemeanor conspiracy to commit an assault and battery as well as misdemeanor assault and battery. Two of those players, running back Glenn Winston and safety Roderick Jenrette, have been dismissed from the team.

"We are not doing anything as a team right now," Dantonio said, "but at least to sit in a team meeting room for our initial meeting back, they were welcomed to be in there, and then we will make decisions based on what happens at a later date."

Here's a look at where everyone stands:
  • The following players who face assault and conspiracy charges have been reinstated: cornerback Chris L. Rucker, offensive lineman J’Michael Deane, wide receiver Mark Dell, wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, wide receiver Fred Smith.
  • Wide receivers Chris D. Rucker and Donald Spencer, who were suspended for being at the residence hall but never charged, also are back with the team.
  • Running back Ashton Leggett, who was suspended and charged, has transferred to Illinois State. Defensive end Jamiihr Williams, who was suspended and charged, has transferred to Northeast Mississippi Community College.
  • Linebacker Brynden Trawick and nose tackle Ishmyl Johnson, who were present at the residence hall but never charged, also have transferred from Michigan State.
  • Wide receiver Myles White, who was suspended for a situation unrelated to the residence hall assault, also is back with the team.

The players facing charges are scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning for pre-trial hearings. Ingham County prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III told the Detroit Free Press that no plea agreement is in place at this time, though that could change.

A major mess for Michigan State

December, 1, 2009
12/01/09
6:23
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Michigan State has suspended eight football players in the wake of an alleged assault at a residence hall last month.

Head coach Mark Dantonio announced Tuesday night the following players have been suspended from all team activities: wide receiver Mark Dell, wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, wide receiver Fred Smith, running back Ashton Leggett, cornerback Chris L. Rucker, linebacker Brynden Trawick, nose tackle Ishmyl Johnson and defensive end Jamiihr Williams. Last week, Dantonio dismissed running back Glenn Winston and safety Roderick Jenrette for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Michigan State police have confirmed that all 10 players were present during the Nov. 22 assault at Rather Hall. While the school is not officially calling the players suspects, MSU police have identified 10 suspects following interviews with witnesses and victims and a review of on-site video. So you can do the math.

The investigation is ongoing, but police are trying to identify five additional suspects. The police will forward their findings to Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III early next week.

We'll have to wait and see what charges are filed and against whom, but the accounts of the assault, which took place during a potluck function sponsored by the Iota Phi Theta fraternity, don't look promising for Michigan State. The Winston connection is particularly damaging, given his role in an off-campus altercation last year that led to four months served in jail and an immediate return to the roster upon his release. Other football players were involved in the previous altercation.

Of the 10 players dismissed or suspended, six have started games this season. Michigan State's depth for an upcoming bowl game could take a major hit, depending on the length of the suspensions, though that should be the least of Dantonio's worries right now.

The bottom of Michigan State's news release reads: "MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis emphasized he and Dantonio share high expectations and standards for conduct and behavior of student-athletes."

A message left for Hollis on Tuesday night was not immediately returned.

More to come on this story.

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