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Petrino Suspends Two Players For Arrests
The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Jul 29, 2008
FAYETTEVILLE — After watching six of his players get arrested over the past few months, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino decided it was time to send a message to his football team.
Petrino announced Tuesday that wide receiver
and linebacker Freddy Burton will each be suspended for the first two games of the season because of their recent arrests for driving while intoxicated.
The suspensions were handed out three days after Wade’s arrest and a day after Burton pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of DWI and careless driving. Burton will be sentenced on Aug. 8.
At the same time, news came out Tuesday that Arkansas defensive tackle Ernest Mitchell was cited during a traffic stop in late June for multiple offenses, including simultaneous possession of drugs and a firearm.
“It’s unfortunate, the incident that happened for both (Burton and Wade), but they’re going to be suspended for the first two games,” Petrino said Tuesday afternoon before participating in a media golf tournament.
“The athletic policy is to suspend them for one game, but I feel like the situation we’re in right now, we’ve got to make sure our players understand they’ve got to do things right off the field and they’ve got to do things right in the classroom.”
Burton and Wade will miss the season opener against Western Illinois in Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Aug. 30 and then a Sept. 6 game against Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium.
Petrino said both players will be allowed to practice when Arkansas opens preseason camp on Monday. They also must undergo counseling and do community service work as part of their punishment.
Burton was pulled over June 29 after University of Arkansas police say the linebacker crossed the center line on Maple Street. He took a breathalyzer test and blew a 0.13, above the legal limit of 0.08.
Wade was arrested late Saturday night when Fayetteville police say the wide receiver sped through a parking lot, nearly hit another officer with his car and then admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Petrino said of Wade’s arrest. “... It was very disheartening, to be honest with you.”
Wade was projected as one of three starting wide receivers, but his suspension means the Razorbacks must look to several unproven backups and incoming freshmen for a replacement early in the season.
“Anytime you lose someone that took a lot of reps (in practice), it impacts you,” said Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, who also coaches the team’s wide receivers. “When things happen, there are consequences and you can’t blink and you’ve just got move on and work hard.”
Arkansas already lacked depth at linebacker, and a series of off-the-field incidents has left the Razorbacks even thinner at the position heading into the start of fall practice.
Junior Freddie Fairchild, who started 11 games at strongside linebacker last season, was kicked off the team on June 11 following his arrest in late March on charges of assaulting a girlfriend.
Meanwhile, the status of backup linebacker Wendel Davis remains uncertain after the junior injured his right hand when he punched a car during a traffic incident on July 1. The altercation led to Davis getting arrested on a felony charge of first-degree criminal mischief.
Bobby Petrino said Tuesday that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of suspending Davis, who’s scheduled to appear in Washington County Circuit Court on Monday.
“I think we’ll let the judicial system play out and see how all that works,” Petrino said. “It was not the point in time to do anything with Wendel.”
Davis’ altercation, coupled with Burton’s suspension and Fairchild’s dismissal, could force several freshman linebackers to play immediately for the Razorbacks.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing. But again, I have to prepare the guys that I have and go play,” Arkansas linebackers coach Reggie Johnson said. “Those guys (who got in trouble), I can’t control all that.”
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