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Friday, November 13, 2009
Vols freshmen won't play vs. Mississippi

By Chris Low
ESPN.com

The three Tennessee freshmen arrested early Thursday morning on charges of armed robbery will not play in Saturday's game against Mississippi, according to a Tennessee spokeswoman.

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin has declined to comment about the players' status with the team until more information is gathered about their arrests.

However, Tiffany Carpenter, Tennessee's director of public relations for athletics, said Friday that none of the three players -- safety Janzen Jackson, defensive back Mike Edwards and receiver Nu'Keese Richardson -- would travel with the team and that none of the three would play in the game.

Jackson was released from jail Thursday afternoon on his own recognizance, and Edwards was released after posting bond. Richardson remained in the Knox County Detention Center in lieu of a $19,500 bond. But Officer Tim Isaacs, who answered the phone at the facility on Friday night, said that Richardson was no longer at the jail. He would provide no further information.

According to a Knoxville City Police report, the arrests stemmed from an attempted robbery outside a convenience store near campus. A powered pellet gun was recovered in the players' car after they were stopped by police near the Gibbs Hall dormitory on campus, where the Vols' freshman football players live.

At least one of the players arrested was wearing some type of Tennessee gear during the attempted robbery, according to police.

A fourth suspect, a woman alleged to have been driving a car with the three players as passengers, was also arrested.

Don Bosch, an attorney representing Jackson, said his client maintains his innocence and was hopeful of having the charges dismissed.

Jackson, one of the highest-rated signees in Kiffin's first recruiting class, started in seven of the nine games this season and has been one of the best freshmen in the league.

Jackson was suspended last week for the Memphis game for what Kiffin said was a violation of team rules. That suspension came on the heels of a failed drug test, sources told ESPN.com.

As recently as Wednesday, during the SEC coaches teleconference, Kiffin had praised his team for not having any off-the-field problems during his tenure and had repeated several times this year that the Vols had been free of any such incidents.

Richardson, of Pahokee, Fla., was at the center of Kiffin's dustup with Florida coach Urban Meyer last February. Richardson had been committed to Florida for some time, but switched to Tennessee on signing day.

The next day, at a Tennessee recruiting breakfast, Kiffin made his comments alleging Meyer cheated to get Richardson and still wasn't able to sign him. Kiffin was reprimanded by the SEC for those comments.

According to the police report, the victims of the robbery were in their car outside a Pilot convenience store, parked next to a Toyota Prius, when a black male approached wearing a hooded sweatshirt, brandishing what appeared to be a handgun, opened the driver's side door and said, "Give me everything you have."

A second black male, also wearing a hooded sweatshirt, then went around to the passenger side of the victims' car, opened it and said, "Give us everything you've got."

But when the victims opened their wallets and showed they had no money, a third black male approached the other two and said, "We've got to go," and all three got into the Prius and drove away, according to the police report.

Police said when they pulled over the Prius, they found a black air-powered pellet gun and a pair of hooded sweatshirts. Police also said they found a marijuana grinder, which the driver, Marie Montmarquet, said belonged to her, and a baggie containing what appeared to be marijuana in Montmarquet's jacket.

According to police, the victims later identified Edwards and Richardson as the men who had approached them.

Chris Low covers Southeastern Conference football for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.