Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Two players arrested on drug, weapon charges
By Jimmy Burch
McClatchy Newspapers
AUSTIN, Texas - Tarell Brown, Texas' starting cornerback, was arrested Monday on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and unlawful carrying of a weapon, making it unclear if he will be available for Saturday's game against top-ranked Ohio State.
Brown and teammate Tyrell Gatewood, a reserve safety, were arrested at 2:48 a.m. Monday in the 7700 block of Interstate 35, along with former Longhorns player Aaron Harris. All three were charged with marijuana possession of two ounces or less, a Class B misdemeanor, according to the arrest report issued by the Travis County Sheriff's Office.
Brown, a senior who has started the past 13 games for the Longhorns, also was charged with a Class A misdemeanor for unlawful carrying of a weapon. All three were released on bond.
The weapons charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Maximum punishment for the marijuana charge is 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Texas coach Mack Brown issued a statement Monday, saying that Tarell Brown and Gatewood will be held out of "all team functions as we gather as much information as possible before making a team decision" on internal disciplinary actions. In 2003, Coach Brown suspended tailback Cedric Benson for one game when Benson was charged with criminal trespassing during the week of the Baylor contest.
If Tarell Brown is not in the lineup when the third-ranked Longhorns seek to extend college football's longest active winning streak (21 games), his place probably will be taken by either Brandon Foster or Ryan Palmer. Foster and Palmer played at Arlington Bowie High School.
Jamie Balagia, an attorney representing Tarell Brown and Gatewood, said he is optimistic his clients will be cleared when all facts of the case are presented. Balagia said Harris told the arresting officer that the marijuana belonged to him. The 9 mm handgun found in Tarell Brown's lap belongs to Gatewood, who has a permit and uses it for target shooting, Balagia said. In addition, Balagia said Tarell Brown and Gatewood took voluntary drug tests Monday to confirm there was no marijuana in their systems.
Gene Chizik, Texas' defensive coordinator, said he expects "a very focused team" against Ohio State regardless of whether Tarell Brown is one of the Longhorns available to cover the Buckeyes' All-American receiver, Ted Ginn Jr.
"One thing that's awesome about being at the University of Texas is you do have . . . great depth," Chizik said. "We really don't have to address those issues very often, and we feel the same way right now."
Strong safety Michael Griffin said Texas players are used to performing at a high level in big games "regardless of distractions " and that he expects Monday's arrests to have "zero effect" on Saturday's bottom line.
Monday's arrest was triggered, according to the arrest affidavit, when an officer spotted a car driven by Harris swerving from lane to lane northbound on I-35. The other passengers were asleep at the time. After the vehicle was stopped, Harris passed three field sobriety tests but volunteered that he'd been smoking marijuana.
Upon check-in at the jail, officers found an additional .7 grams of marijuana in Harris' front pocket.

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