Wednesday, May 31, 2006 Updated: June 1, 2:58 PM ET
Bengals pick Nicholson, Rouse charged in alleged theft
By Joe Schad Special to ESPN.com
Two former Florida State football players have been charged with stealing electronic equipment worth approximately $1,700 from the home of a current player, Tallahassee Police told ESPN on Wednesday.
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker A.J. Nicholson and former wide receiver Fred Rouse, who was dismissed by coach Bobby Bowden at the end of last season for detrimental conduct, are charged with burglarizing the Tallahassee home of current Florida State running back Lorenzo Booker on May 20 or 21.
Rouse confessed his involvement to authorities on May 28, according to police. Rouse was arrested and charged with three felonies: burglary of a dwelling, grand theft and unrelated possessions of a controlled substance without a prescription, which was ecstasy. Rouse has been released on bond.
A warrant is out for the arrest of Nicholson, who faces felony charges of burglary of a dwelling and grand theft and criminal mischief, which is a misdemeanor.
"Obviously, Lorenzo's not really happy that his former teammates, Rouse and Nicholson, did this," Tallahassee Police Public Information Officer John Newland said. "This incident occurred May 20 and A.J. was drafted in April. You knew you were leaving. Why would you put yourself through this? It's just really unfortunate."
A police source said that among the items investigators found at Booker's home was a wide receivers glove with "1," Rouse's former jersey number, stitched into the inside of it. The glove had been left under a color television that had been thrown onto the floor.
Entrance to the home, police said, was made by breaking a rear window. In gaining entry, the suspects appeared to cut themselves as they left blood there and on one of Bookers' roommate's sheets. Police later found drops of blood at the exterior of the home of Nicholson's girlfriend.
In a sworn, taped interview on May 28, Rouse said Nicholson entered the home and carried out two portable stereos, a DVD player and a pair of headphones. Rouse also said Nicholson had sustained a substantial cut on a finger.
Nicholson, who was accused of a sexual assault in Miami and sent home from the Orange Bowl, was selected by the Bengals in the fifth round. Nicholson, who has pleaded no contest to a DUI arrest and had another incident with Tallahassee police that led to dropped charges of resisting arrest, has not been charged in the sexual assault case.
"A.J. was with the team yesterday and today, participating in off-season workouts," the Bengals said in a statement. "His attorneys have been in contact with law enforcement authorities in Florida. A.J. will travel to Florida on Saturday to meet with the authorities. They will then refer the case to the district attorney, who will determine whether or not to prosecute. Pending further developments, A.J. will continue to participate in all scheduled team activities."
Rouse, one of the nation's top freshman prospects last season, and a native of Tallahassee, had only six catches for 114 yards and one touchdown. Rouse also returned 11 punts for 97 yards and six kickoffs for 107 yards.
Joe Schad is ESPN's college football reporter.