I woke up this morning and went through my normal routine…get some cereal, check my email, check Power Mizzou, and check 3SIB. Usually that makes for a pretty pleasant morning before I head to work. Today, well, not so much. I was greeted with the news that three freshmen from the Vols, Nu’Keese Richardson, Janzen Jackson, and Mike Edwards, had been arrested in connection with an armed robbery at a gas station in Knoxville. Awesome.
Two of the three, Richardson and Jackson, happen to be the prized recruits who were swayed from Florida and LSU on Signing Day last year. This is also the first legal-related blemish on first-year head coach Lane Kiffin’s team record. Boy, it’s a big one.
The report is that the three players and a 22-year-old woman stopped at a gas station on the strip around 2 AM. Jackson got out to buy something from inside while the others stayed in the car. That’s when Richardson and Edwards donned hoodies, went to the car parked next to them and demanded money. Richardson was also carrying a pellet gun. About the time the victim declared that he had no cash, Jackson came out of the store and said, “We have to go.”
The three jumped into the car and took off. They were apprehended a short time later at the dorm where they live. The driver of the car was in possession of marijuana and a marijuana grinder.
Jackson and Edwards have now been released from custody while Richardson is still being held.
Earlier this afternoon Vol fans were called for the immediate dismissal of all three players. I disagree. The evidence is certainly stacked against Richardson and Edwards. Jackson is a different story. As of right now, I’d suspend all of them indefinitely pending the investigation and then kick them off the team once the investigation is complete. You know, innocent until proven guilty.
With Jackson, I’d suspend him, but it truly sounds like a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Imagine you’re out with your friends and you stop to get some Skittles at a gas station, you come back outside and your friends are trying to rob the people in the car parked next to you. You didn’t have anything to do with it. I only suggest this could be a possibility because the robbery attempt seemed to be a spur of the moment thing. I’d imagine that no matter how dumb these kids are, if they planned to rob someone at a gas station, it wouldn’t have been in a well-lit area with a pellet gun. So Jackson comes out, whether he can figure out what’s going on or not, and says, “Hey we gotta go.”
I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he probably wasn’t involved. However, if he did know what was about to happen and played any role whatsoever, kick him off, too. Jackson was suspended for last week’s game against Memphis, but the reason was never officially released. In other words, he was skating on thin ice already.
That’s how I’d handle the situation down in Knoxville. No matter what Kiffin does, people are going to criticize the decision – especially fans of opposing teams. We’ll see how this affects their game this weekend in Oxford against Ole Miss. Go Big Orange.