March 11, 2011
Sometimes, as a writer, even the slightest hint of embellishment threatens to dilute reality. So I will say this only this: For Auburn players, Antonio Goodwin, Shaun Kitchens, Michael McNeil and Dakota Mosley, were arrested early this morning and charged with armed robbery by Auburn police. The rest, I'll leave to the police report:
At approximately 12:25 a.m. this same date [March 11] officers responded to a residence located in the 2300 block of Lee Road 137 (Wire Road) in reference to the report of a robbery that had just occurred. According to the five victims present, three black males entered the residence with one displaying a handgun. Personal property was stolen during the incident. No injuries were reported.
A patrolman responding to the area observed what he believed to be the suspect vehicle based on a description he was given. Officers stopped the vehicle in the 1200 block of Wire Road and four suspects were taken into custody. A pistol and the stolen property was recovered at the scene.
Officially, each player was charged with five counts apiece of first-degree robbery, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of third-degree theft of property. All were being held this morning at the Lee County Detention Center on $511,000 bond. The police report does not indicate the nature or value of "stolen property." The NCAA will be proud to note that, in their quest for quick and easy cash, the players did not resort to selling jerseys or championship rings.
Obligatory note: All persons charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty. (See: Tennessee safety Janzen Jackson, who was initially arrested and booted along with a pair of teammates following an armed robbery in 2009, but later cleared and allowed to return to the team.) That said, all four Tigeres were swiftly permanently dismissed from the team this afternoon and strongly rebuked by coach Gene Chizik and athletic director Jay Jacobs with no mention of absolution through legal recourse.
The only name in the quartet that will really matter to Auburn fans on the field is McNeil's: He returned from a major knee injury to start every game in 2010 as a fourth-year junior and was set to return as one of only seven starters from last year's BCS championship team. Kitchens and Goodwin, both freshmen, got on the field as special teams fodder — Goodwin blocked a punt in the win over Arkansas — but weren't going to crack the lineup any time soon; Mosley redshirted. On the bright side, maybe Nick Fairley doesn't look like such "character risk" by comparison.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.