Posted: 1:37 pm Monday, November 16th, 2009

Tennessee dismisses Nu’Keese Richardson, Mike Edwards 

By Jason Lieser

If Pahokee’s Nu’Keese Richardson ever resurrects his football career, it won’t be at the University of Tennessee.

Volunteers coach Lane Kiffin on Monday announced the dismissal of Richardson and fellow freshman Mike Edwards following their arrests on charges of attempted armed robbery. The third player involved in last Thursday’s incident, Janzen Jackson, is suspended but remains on the team.

In a statement, Kiffin said he did “extensive research” and considered other disciplinary options for Richardson and Edwards, but ultimately decided it was in his program’s best interest to kick them off the team.

“This type of conduct will not be tolerated,” Kiffin’s statement read. “My hope is that these two young men will learn from their terrible decision.

“Clearly, their actions have no place in our program.”

The Tennessee athletic department declined to say if Richardson and Edwards would be permitted to continue their enrollment at the university, but it did note that they will no longer be on scholarship.

Richardson, Edwards, Jackson and a 22-year-old woman named Marie Montmarquet all face Class C felony charges. The four were arrested Thursday morning in connection with a robbery at a Pilot convenience store near the Knoxville campus.

The victims told police they were sitting in their car in the parking lot when two men — whom they identified to police as Richardson and Edwards — approached them and demanded, “Give me everything you got.” They said one of the suspects displayed what appeared to be a black semi-automatic handgun and when the alleged victims showed their empty wallets, another man — allegedly Jackson — emerged from the store and said, “We’ve gotta go.”

Police later determined the weapon was a pellet gun.

Richardson, 18, helped lead Pahokee to its third straight state championship last season and was All-State as a quarterback and wide receiver.

He committed to Florida in May 2008, but a strong push by Tennessee early this year swayed him to sign with the Volunteers in February.

A reserve wide receiver, he saw action as a return man on special teams for Tennessee this season. He caught eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown and had 58 rushing yards on six attempts. He averaged 22.5 yards per kick return.

Earlier this month, Richardson missed the team’s Nov. 1 practice for undisclosed reasons, which fueled rumors of a possible transfer. Kiffin denied that speculation and said Richardson had been dealing with “some personal issues.”

Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson said Monday that he had nothing to add to the statement he made last week.

“We love Nu’Keese,” Thompson said Thursday. “This is out of character for him, but if this is in fact what he did, then we are here to support him.”

Richardson, who has no previous arrests on his record, was released from jail on $19,500 bond Friday, a day after his co-defendants either posted bond or were released on their own recognizance. Richardson did not return a message left on his cell phone Monday.

All four defendants are scheduled to appear in a Tennessee court on Friday.