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One Vol Arrested, Three More Questioned In Bar Brawl

So much for a slow Friday.  If Tennessee had simply had one player arrested, we would have put it in our headlines post and been done with it — as we have done with other schools’ arrests this week.

But for some reason, UT football players tend to get in trouble in packs.  And this story is sure to get as much play in Georgia as it does in Tennessee, too.

So…

True freshman receiver Da’Rick Rogers was arrested early this morning at a near-campus club called “Bar Knoxville” for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.  Rogers caused a stir this winter when the highly-touted prospect chose Tennessee over his homestate Georgia Bulldogs.

According to The Knoxville News Sentinel, Sophomore safety Darren Myles — who was charged in April with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest — has been questioned by police regarding an alleged assault on a UT campus police officer.  (An update is at the bottom of this post.)

Sophomore defensive tackle Montori Hughes and senior receiver Denarius Moore have been questioned in connection to an assault on an off-duty Knoxville police officer.  That officer was found unconscious lying on the street in front of the club.  He is undergoing treatment at at an area hospital for a head wound.

We’ll let a spokesperson for the Knoxville Police Department pick it up from there: 

“According to multiple witnesses, the male victim from inside the bar was involved in an altercation with another patron when several additional patrons jumped into the fight.

“Employees of the bar intervened and pushed the fight outside onto the sidewalk.  Officer (Robert) Capoullez intervened in an attempt to stop the fight when he was attacked.

“According to witnesses, the officer was hit in the head and knocked to the ground.  Once on the ground the suspect kicked the officer several times before fleeing the scene.  Six individuals were identified as potential suspects.  These individuals were located and detained for questioning.  It appears several of these individuals may be associated with the University of Tennessee football program.”

In addition to the unconscious officer, another bar patron was was sent to an area hospital for treatment.

UPDATE — To make matters worse, the co-owner of the club tells The Chattanooga Times Free Press that “seven to 10″ UT players were involved in the fight.

Sandy Morton Said, “We had all the UT football players come in.  They’re on a first-name basis with my husband (and co-owner) and they get VIP status, which means they pay no cover at the door.  We’ve never had a problem with them in the past, but tonight, apparently they had a falling out with another gentleman.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know what happened, but several of the guys started beating up the customer.  I want to guess there was seven to 10 guys beating up this one gentleman.

“All the security then rushed in and were trying to break it up.  My husband saw them picking up bar stools and starting to swing them.  We got them out the door with security.  There happened to be a friend of our who was an off-duty police officer outside.  He tried to help, and he ended up getting knocked out in the street and proceeded to be kicked while he was down on the ground in the middle of Cumberland (Avenue).

Witnesses told Morton that “these several gentlemen just started beating the tar out of this one.  There was blood.  There was ripped shirts.  It took pretty much all my security to get them out.”

There’s more: “We have a strict dress code, and (UT players) try to cross the line as much as they can.  They’ll try to come in without ID, but we’re very strict on ID.  We’re very strict on underage drinking.  We’ve had small occasions where we’ve had to throw a couple of them out for underage drinking.  An over-age friend will buy them a drink.  That’s the typical problems we’ve had, but we’ve never had a fight.  This is our first, and it will be our last.”

Apparently, Tennessee’s new “character education coach” will have some work to do with this bunch.

A few points on this matter:

* Georgia fans who were enraged when Rogers changed his commitment to Tennessee will no doubt get a kick out of this top prospect getting into trouble before he ever steps on a football field.  Of course, it’s a little sleazy for fans of any school to “enjoy” the arrest of a young man, regardless of where that young man is in school.  That said, Dawg fans will surely howl, just as Vol fans would have laughed if the jail-issued shoe had been on the other foot.

* With a roster that will be well below the full scholarship limit of 85, Derek Dooley can little afford to lose any more bodies.  That puts him in a tight spot because Dooley has repeatedly pushed his program as being a character-first kinda place.  It’s a big part of his recruiting message.  So what will he do if multiple Vols — and all four of the players named figure to be contributors — wind up charged in the beating of a cop(s)?

* And when it comes to beating up a cop, that’s about as bad a move as someone can make.  On-duty, off-duty, doesn’t matter.  Law enforcement doesn’t like finding one of its own lying unconscious in the street.  Someone is likely to take a very big fall for this one.

* Myles won an award this spring for displaying team leadership qualities.  Since receiving his award, he’s now been arrested once and questioned in another incident.  It will be tough for Dooley not to dismiss the senior safety.

* Here’s guessing “Bar Knoxville” will soon be declared off-limits to UT football players.  I can’t imagine Dooley will allow his squad to continue patronizing a place where they’re given such “VIP status.”  And just wait til that one hits the messageboards in 11 other SEC towns.  “No cover charges?  Extra benefits!”

UPDATE — Knoxville’s WBIR-TV has video of the aftermath.  Ditto for WATE-TV.


UPDATE — Myles has now been charged with assault, resisting arrest and evading arrest.  So much for those leadership qualities Myles supposedly displayed this spring.  Dooley will have an awfully hard time keeping him on Tennessee’s team.  IF the coach is as serious about running a character-first program as he says he is.

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