Denzel Nkemdiche is going to have to pay for mistakes he made on his 21st birthday.
Nkemdiche, an All-SEC linebacker at Ole Miss, was arrested and charged on Feb. 15 with disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and failure to comply with a police officer. Less than a month later, coach Hugh Freeze announced that Nkemdiche would miss the season-opener against Boise State for his misdemeanors.
"We feel like we failed with them in some way," Freeze said. "I take it very personal. But ... we will hold their feet to the fire and we're not afraid to make a tough decision. No one is more important than this team. The team comes first."
Nkemdiche also will miss spring drills, which started Tuesday.
Nkemdiche has had a rough offseason. Not only was he arrested on his birthday, a few days later, he and his younger brother and teammate Robert were sued in civil court for “battery, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress for which the plaintiff is seeking two million dollars in damages” from an incident that occurred Feb. 17, 2013.
The Nkemdiche brothers, and five other Ole Miss football players, were involved in a fight at the Kappa Alpha fraternity house at Ole Miss. The Nkemdiche brothers were accused of inflicting serious harm on the plaintiff, who was knocked unconscious and ultimately transported to the emergency room with multiple injuries.
The university said it's waiting for the legal process to play out before making any definitive decisions about the futures of the Nkemdiche brothers.
“I hope [Nkemdiche] can really learn from mistakes that have been made and get back to being who he can be,” Freeze said. “He's a good kid."
Nkemdiche isn’t the only one in hot water with Freeze.
The day before Nkemdiche’s arrest, Serdarius Bryant was arrested for disturbing the peace and public drunkenness. Bryant is participating in spring drills, though Freeze said a suspension is still possible.
"[Bryant] is very aware of exactly what he has to do," Freeze said. "He's giving up his spring break to go do some mission work. That's part of it. He's got some community service, he's got some counseling.”
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