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7 Ole Miss Football Players Facing A $2 Million Civil Suit After Alleged Beating

gavel2Nowhere is it more obvious that we’re in college football’s offseason than in Oxford, Mississippi.  Just as soon as the final whistle of bowl season is blown, arrests and court dates begin to take over the football landscape.  In the Magnolia State, the Rebels are dealing with both with already.

In January, cornerback Bobby Hill was arrested and charged with sexual battery.  He is indefinitely suspended from the Ole Miss team as a result.  Defensive end Channing Ward pled guilty last week to DUI charges which followed a January incident.

Apparently those issues were just the hors d’oeuvre.

Over the weekend, Denzel Nkemdiche and Serderius Bryant found themselves in trouble with the law, too.  Nkemdiche — a linebacker — was picked up for disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and failure to comply with a police officer.  Bryant — also a linebacker — was nicked for public drunkenness and disturbing the peace.  Both were suspended on Monday with Huge Freeze saying: “We are aware of the incidents and gathering facts.  Denzel and Serderius are suspended until we know more.”

Fast-forward to yesterday when it was learned that a plaintiff has filed a $2 million civil suit against Nkemdiche, his brother Robert Nkemdiche (an Ole Miss defensive end) and five yet-to-be-named Rebel football players.  The plaintiff, Matthew Baird, alleges that Denzel Nkemdiche punched him from behind and knocked him unconscious.  According to the lawsuit, Robert Nkemdiche and the other five began to kick an stomp Baird while he was on the ground.  This allegedly took place a year ago according to The Jackson Clarion Ledger.

Readers of this site know what our stance on this would be if it’s found to be true — Any players involved in a violent crime should be immediately tossed from the University of Mississippi football team.  If someone is on scholarship and represents a university, violent criminal activity should result in immediate dismissal from the team and school.  End of story.  We write the same thing whenever one of these player(s)-on-student(s) issues arises.

But you also know that that’s not at all likely to happen.

First, of course, UM’s brass must determine what actually happened.  A statement released by AD Ross Bjork reveals that in the school’s view, the matter has already been investigated by police which therefore makes it a closed case:

 

“When this alleged incident occurred, the proper authorities investigated the matter and could find no evidence of wrong-doing related to Denzel and Robert Nkemdiche or any other members of our football program.  This is a personal matter for them and we will support Denzel and Robert while they defend themselves in this civil case.”

 

Translation: This is an issue for the players involved — not Ole Miss – and none of those athletes will be heaved from the Rebel football team as the coppers have already given them a pass.  If that pass was deserved, so bet it.

However.

As you know, the level of evidence needed to win a civil case differs from the level of evidence needed to convict persons in a criminal trial.  While the original officers could find “no evidence” of an attack in the immediate aftermath, a civil court might view the same incident differently.

Blair claims that he and his girlfriend and another friend visited a campus frat house last February 17th.  An unrelated fight broke out at some point during the party.  Frat officials then asked everyone to leave.  As Blair left, Denzel Nkemdiche allegedly “came from behind and punched him,” knocking the young man unconscious.  Blair’s suit says that both Nkemdiches and five others “began to kick and stomp the plaintiff’s head into the ground.”  When his friend tried to dive on top of Blair to cover him and protect him, he too was kicked and beaten, “bursting (his) eardrum and injuring his middle ear.”

By the time the police arrived, the players had left.  After convulsions, a seizure, and 12 to 15 minutes of unconsciousness, Blair was treated for multiple injuries, including “a closed head injury,” according to the Clarion-Ledger.  There’s no word on what — if anything — Blair and his co-horts might have done or said to instigate the alleged beating.

Blair is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

If Blair’s attorney can convince enough witnesses to verify his client’s account, seven Ole Miss football players might just find themselves on the hook for a couple million bucks.  If the players do lose their civil case, would that be enough to eject all seven from the Mississippi football team?  Bjork’s statement suggests that it wouldn’t be.

Whether that’s the right call or the wrong one likely depends upon which SEC football team is your particular favorite.  We will say only this: If the evidence presented in the civil suit is particularly damning — meaning multiple witnesses who apparently didn’t speak to police do speak up in court — it’s not going to look good for Freeze’s program.  Especially is he turns a blind eye to the evidence presented in the civil suit.

For now, Rebel fans simply have to wait out the various arrests, citations, lawsuits and accusations made against multiple players on their football team in a two-month period.  And if the start of the year is any indication, this spring and summer could be downright ugly in Oxford.

Update: The lawyer for Denzel and Robert Nkemdiche has denied allegations made in a civil suit.

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Ole Miss D-Coordinator On Nkemdiche: “You Can’t Single Block Him”

gfx - they said itIn the days leading up to a football game, usually it’s an opposing coach who talks about just how unstoppable or how unblockable a talent on the other team is.  But in the case of Ole Miss freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche — the nation’s top prospect this past February — it’s his own defensive coordinator, Dave Wommack, who’s broadcasting his skills:

 

“He’s so big and strong and fast that you can’t single block him.  It’s just not going to happen, I don’t care who we’re playing.  He’s a massive individual that can create havoc.”

 

Nkemdiche is listed at 6-4, 297 pounds.  For comparison’s sake, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney is 6-6, 274.

Rebel defensive line coach Chris Kiffin tossed in a comparison to the Gamecock star when asked about his own protege:  “I’ve gone back and watched film of Clowney and seen some of the same things.  Just natural athleticism and making plays.  You see both of them doing the wrong thing and still making plays.”

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Rebels Lose Assistant McGriff To NFL’s Saints

WESLEYMCGRIFF150With spring practice just around the corner, the SEC’s coaching carousel is supposed to be still and silent by now.  But on Monday, somebody gave the thing another big spin.

Hours after it was learned that Tennessee would lose running backs coach and solid recruiter Jay Graham to Florida State, Ole Miss also took a hit.  And the Rebels also lost a good recruiter.

The New Orleans Saints announced late yesterday the hiring of Wesley McGriff, Mississippi’s cornerbacks coach and co-defensive coordinator last year.  As a recruiter, McGriff led UM’s efforts in landing 5-star prospects Robert Nkemdiche and Laquon Treadwell.  Rivals.com named him as one of the 25 best recruiters in the nation for his work.

McGriff will serve as the Saints’ defensive backs coach.  Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze will now begin his search for McGriff’s replacement.

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Freeze Talks About The Rumors That Something Fishy Must Be Goin’ On At Ole Miss

gfx - they said itNo one has made a bigger splash this signing day than Ole Miss.  But head coach Hugh Freeze isn’t hiding the fact that he had some strong connections to a number of hotshot players and that that made it easier to put this year’s class together:

 

“Obviously, we had some natural ins to some of the top players it the nation so I think that was very advantageous for us.  Certainly without those, would today be what it is?  I don’t know.  In addition to that our staff did a wonderful job of executing our 12-month plan. 

As Newsweek and Forbes Magazine and The Wall Street Journal all report about the great things about our campus, we just always felt like if we could get a group of top players here together on the same weekend and experience Ole Miss for what it really is that we would have a chance.”

 

He’s referring, in part, to the fact that top defensive end signee Robert Nkemdiche’s brother is already a Rebel.  Top safety signee Antonio Connor is a Mississippian who said he felt “more comfortable” playing in his home state.  Etc, etc.

Still, there have been many questions about Ole Miss’ meteoric rise into the top five of most major recruiting services’s rankings.  Freeze addressed those rumors a few days ago on Twitter.  He talked about them again today on ESPNU:

 

“We had a plan, we executed the plan, we did it with integrity within our staff as we went out.  Anytime that’s being attacked I want to respond to it… Certainly, if there’s something going on out there that is against what we stand for I would like to know it.  Instead of just because we’re upsetting the apple cart — so to speak — and doing something that hasn’t been done, that’s part of our sale point.  ‘Let’s do something together that hasn’t been done.’… It’s unfortunate that people can say whatever they want.  And if they have facts, we’d love to hear ‘em.”

 

And there you have it.  If there are any facts to back up the claims of wrongdoing at Ole Miss, the Rebels’ head coach says he’s all ears.  If there aren’t, then the fact remains that Mississippi has just had one helluva recruiting haul.

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Nkemdiche Paperwork Is In At Ole Miss

mrsec-breaking-newsThe Letter of Intent from defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is officially signed (properly), sealed, and it’d been delivered to Ole Miss officials.  Dunzo.  Congrats to the Rebels on landing the nation’s top prospect.

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Top Commit Nkemdiche Having To Fill Out Paperwork Again

mrsec-breaking-newsOle Miss has gotten off to a tremendous start on National Signing Day.  But the day hasn’t been perfect. 

The #1 player in the country — Robert Nkemdiche who announced he would go to Mississippi early this morning — filled out part of his Letter of Intent incorrectly.  UM officials have sent him another letter to fill out correctly.

No biggie, but Rebel fans want Nkemdiche signed, sealed, and delivered.  As soon as possible.

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Robert Nkemdiche Chooses Ole Miss

NkemdicheThe nation’s number one football prospect is headed to Ole Miss. Robert Nkemdiche made the announcement just moments ago on ESPNU.  The defensive end from Loganville, Georgia will join his brother, Denzel, a linebacker for the Rebels. He had also considered LSU and Florida, making a visit to Baton Rouge this past weekend.  We’re off and running on National Signing Day with Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss Rebels having the first big catch of the day.

 

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SEC Headlines 2/2/2013

headlines-satSEC Football

1. The nation’s number one recruit is at LSU this weekend.  Robert Nkemdiche met Shaq during the visit.  Here’s the picture.  

2. It’s official at LSU. The university’s board of supervisors approves Les Miles’ new pay package - $4.3 million annual salary represents a 15% increase.  He’s signed through 2019.

3. Not everyone is happy about the raise.  LSU associate librarian: ”LSU is known nationally as a football team, not as an institution of higher learning.”

4. Texas A&M made the hire of linebackers coach Mark Hagen official on Friday.

5. South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney tweeted a few weeks ago “two more years of college” - but it’s not fooling coach Steve Spurrier. ” I think he’s just trying to get the fans to love him a little bit more. That’s not the smart thing for him to do. He knows that.”

6. Tennessee’s 2012 recruiting class is known for its attrition.  But what’s left could have a big impact on 2013.

7. Mississippi State guard Tobias Smith granted sixth year of eligibility by NCAA.  Hasn’t decided if he’ll come back in the fall.

8. What Gus Malzahn should be selling at Auburn.

9. When you rank the SEC signing classes by NFL draftees - here’s your top 10 of the past ten years.

SEC Basketball

10. On the eve of the Super Bowl, Georgia coach Mark Fox recalls his time at Nevada with quarterback Colin Kaepernick and why he wants running back Todd Gurley at practice.  ” I told Gurley: ‘You run over people for a living, you need to come over here and go practice the charge drill.’ ”

11, The SEC used to be an up-tempo run-and-gun league.  No more.  “A 54-53 game was once unthinkable. Now, it’s routine.”

12. SEC winning percentage against non-conference opponents is 66.6 percent – the worst since the league started tracking it.

13. Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin on Texas A&M’s Elston Turner’s performance at Rupp: “(A) guy that scores 40 on a team as good as we are, that’s just an embarrassment to our team. We shouldn’t let that happen. I can’t wait to play him because I know that I’m not going to let it happen again.”

14. Turner: “I know I’m not going to have 40 again. But it’s going to be a great game.”

15. Florida guard Kenny Boynton on facing Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson: I heard he’s a good scorer. I’m not worried. We’re going to come ready to play.” Keep your eye on the Scott Wilkebin-Marshall matchup.

16. Auburn coach Tony Barbee on Missouri: “They’re probably the most complete team in the league.”

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Laquon Treadwell Commits To Ole Miss

Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell from Crete-Monee High School in Crete, Ill., has committed to Ole Miss.

The nation’s No. 1 wide receiver according to ESPN chose Ole Miss over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

“The recruiting process was something I took very seriously, but had a lot of fun with,” Treadwell said, according to ESPN. “I took my time in the process so I could make the right choice for myself.”

Treadwell’s interest in Ole Miss was strengthened by the presence of former Crete-Monee standout Anthony Standifer, who plays defensive back for Ole Miss. He signed with the Rebels last February.

Treadwell’s commitment is the start of what’s expected to be a strong finish to the class of 2013 for Ole Miss. The Rebels are recruiting several highly-touted prospects, including the nation’s No. 1 prospect, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche from Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga.

“I wanted to be a part of something special,” Treadwell said. “The program is on the rise with the new coaching staff. (Coach Hugh Freeze) is changing the culture and I want to be a part of changing the Rebel culture.”

Ole Miss has 21 commitments for the class of 2013.

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Laquon Treadwell Has ‘No Doubt’ Ole Miss Is No. 1

Ole Miss is the new leader for wide receiver Laquon Treadwell from Crete, Ill.

This news follows Treadwell’s official visit to Ole Miss last weekend. And it comes at a time while the Rebels are making a strong run at No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive end from Loganville, Ga.

Treadwell’s recruitment still has a ways to go. He will likely take all five official visits, with Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame remaining in the mix.

Other schools will continue to pursue Treadwell and try to convince him to visit before he signs with a school.

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