KNOXVILLE - Lane Kiffin's frequent reminders that his University of Tennessee football players hadn't run afoul of the law stopped early Thursday morning.
By early Thursday night, though, Mr. Kiffin said he didn't have enough information to rule on the football futures of freshmen Janzen Jackson, Nu'Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards.
The three UT freshmen were arrested shortly after 2 a.m. Thursday in connection with an armed robbery near campus.
"We're gathering all the information in and until then we really have nothing for you," Mr. Kiffin said after Thursday night's practice. "The only thing I can give is that Janzen has been released, and we'll deal with the three situations coming up. But until we have all the information, I can't comment any further on it.
"We don't know exactly what happened. Unfortunately there was an incident. We made it 11 months and 11 days without incidents. We'll deal with the information as it comes in."
Mr. Jackson, a star freshman safety, was initially asked to post bail before being released in the later afternoon on his own recognizance. The player's lawyer, Don Bosch, said his client "vehemently asserts his innocence."
"And we hope that this will become apparent in the next 24 to 48 hours," Mr. Bosch added.
Mr. Edwards was released from the Knox County Detention Center early Thursday evening on $19,500 bond, but officials said Mr. Richardson was still being held.
Knoxville Police Department warrants indicated that Mr. Richardson and Mr. Edwards were identified as those who committed the robbery at the Cumberland Avenue Pilot service station.
According to eyewitness reports, either Mr. Edwards or Mr. Richardson opened the victims' driver-side door while brandishing the semi-automatic pellet gun and said, "Give me everything you have." The other player then reportedly approached the front passenger door and said, "Give us everything you've got."
Mr. Jackson's role in the matter wasn't as clear, though he reportedly approached his teammates at some point and told them, "We've got to go." His whereabouts before that moment haven't been disclosed.
A fourth suspect - identified as Marie Montmarquet, reportedly the driver of the suspects' vehicle - was also arrested. She was charged in the robbery and with marijuana possession after a "marijuana grinder" and a green, leafy substance was found in the car's glove compartment, according to KPD documents.
Documents stated the felony stop and subsequent search of Ms. Montmarquet's car, a 2010 Toyota Prius, also revealed a carbon dioxide-powered pellet gun and black hooded sweatshirts believed to be used in the incident.
Mr. Jackson, from Lake Charles, La., started every game this season at free safety until missing Saturday's win over Memphis for what coaches called "administrative" reasons. He was named Southeastern Conference freshman of the week after UT's previous game - a win over South Carolina - and resumed practicing with the starters in preparation for Saturday's game at Ole Miss.
Mr. Jackson didn't disclose the reason for his suspension Wednesday night, but he said he and coaches had put the incident behind them and were happy to move forward.
"It's in the past now, and I'm back to work," Mr. Jackson said approximately six hours before Thursday's incident. "It was a problem that happened in the past, so we had already gotten past it and just had to hit this bump in the road."
Mr. Richardson, from Pahokee, Fla., has returned punts and played sporadically as a wide receiver. He had his best game against Memphis, catching three passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Mr. Richardson missed practice Nov. 1 - one day after the team defeated South Carolina - to deal with what he and coaches called "personal issues." He returned to the team's next practice, saying he and Mr. Kiffin had resolved the situation. The player said homesickness was a reason for his issues.
Mr. Edwards, from Cleveland, Ohio, was a special teams member and reserve cornerback pegged by coaches as a future impact player.
Mr. Kiffin has consistently praised the off-field discipline he and his assistants have instilled in their program. The coach recently claimed that the team's GPA was the highest it's been in at least five years.
"There's no disappointment," Mr. Kiffin said. "There's no nothing right now, because I don't have all the information in. Once we get all the information in, we'll make a decision.
"I'm not going to get into all that stuff, guys. That's it. We're going to practice. Practice today was really good. I thought the guys performed really well. We're really focused, and we've got to get ready for a big-time game."
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