Four former Tiger football players booked on drug counts
BY Kimberly Vetter
and Ryan Broussard
Advocate staff writers
October 27, 2012
Four former LSU football players, including former Heisman trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu, were arrested Thursday and booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on several drug-related counts after 10 bags containing 18 grams of “high-grade marijuana” were found inside Mathieu’s apartment, Baton Rouge police spokesman Lt. Don Kelly said.
Mathieu, 20, 262 W. State St., and Jordan Jefferson, 22, 11959 Nicholson Drive, were booked on one count each of simple possession of marijuana, according to prison officials. Karnell Hatcher, 22, Delray Beach, Fla., was booked on one count of second-offense simple possession of marijuana and Derrick Bryant, 22, 11959 Nicholson, was booked on one count each of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The men were arrested Thursday afternoon after officers were called to Mathieu’s apartment on West State Street around 3:30 p.m. in reference to a complaint about a man who was trying to force his way into the complex through a security gate, Kelly said.
Before police arrived, the man, later identified as Jefferson, was confronted by a maintenance worker who had seen Jefferson on another occasion without a key card, Kelly said Thursday. Mathieu let Jefferson into the complex and the two were seen going into apartment No. 2116, Kelly said.
When officers, who had been contacted by the complex management, knocked on the door to the apartment, Kelly said, Mathieu answered the door. Officers detected a strong odor of marijuana and received Mathieu’s permission to search the residence, Kelly said.
Police found Jefferson, Bryant and Hatcher inside Mathieu’s apartment, Kelly said. Officers also found a marijuana grinder, a digital scale and 10 bags of “high-grade marijuana,” seven of which were in Bryant’s booksack, Kelly said. He said one bag was found in a dresser drawer in Mathieu’s room and the other two were found in common areas.
Kelly said Bryant claimed as his the seven bags of marijuana found in his booksack.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Bryant and Hatcher had previously been charged with possession of marijuana.
Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist a year ago and All-America cornerback, returned to school nearly a month after he was kicked off the football team and lost his scholarship, reportedly because of multiple failed drug tests.
Mathieu had risen from relative obscurity to become one of the most exciting players in LSU football history.
LSU was the only major college to offer a scholarship to Mathieu, a New Orleans native who attended St. Augustine High.
He became a national phenomenon last season for his spectacular game-changing plays and catchy nickname — “The Honey Badger,” named for the small but fierce animal.
Mathieu played in 26 games during his two years with the Tigers. He made 133 total tackles and four interceptions and scored four touchdowns.
He also forced an LSU career-record 11 fumbles and recovered eight fumbles.
Mathieu was a Heisman Trophy finalist and an Associated Press All-American last season. But he was also suspended once last year for what LSU head football coach Les Miles called “an internal issue.”
Then, on Aug. 10, LSU dismissed Mathieu for what Miles and Athletic Director Joe Alleva termed a “violation of team policy.”
Mathieu soon checked into a Houston drug rehab facility overseen by former NBA player John Lucas, who himself suffered from alcohol and drug addiction.
Mathieu re-enrolled at LSU this fall.
Jefferson, who attended Destrehan High, had an up-and-down career as an LSU quarterback. He started 32 games from 2008-11, completing 59 percent of his passes for 34 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
Jefferson was suspended six games for his role in a bar fight that erupted just before last year’s season opener.
Jefferson returned and eventually took over as the starting quarterback, helping to lead the Tigers to a Southeastern Conference championship. But he threw for only 53 yards in LSU’s 21-0 loss to Alabama in the BCS title game.
Hatcher, a native of Delray Beach, Fla., was a linebacker and safety at LSU from 2008-11. He had 133 tackles and two forced fumbles in 47 games.
Bryant, a native of Lawrenceville, Ga., was a backup safety from 2008-11, posting 28 tackles in 36 games.
Miles, said in reaction to the arrests Thursday, “It’s a shame for them. I don’t have the specifics, so it would be unfair for me to comment any further than that.”
Senior center P.J. Lonergan said Miles informed the team of what happened at the end of practice Thursday afternoon. It was their final practice of the week before taking the weekend off
“We heard something about it at practice,” Lonergan said. “Coach mentioned it to us. It’s a shame. It’s not really going to affect this team, but it is a shame.”
Earlier this month, university officials said LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson told the university’s compliance office that he was unaware that his image was being used to promote a party at a Baton Rouge nightclub in March.
The allegation surfaced in a Sports Illustrated story on Mathieu, which was posted on the magazine’s website on Oct. 16 and published Monday. The story said pictures of Mathieu, Johnson and former Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne were used in a flier and a video to promote a party at The Palace.
Any student-athlete who permits the use of their name or image to promote a commercial product or service would be in violation of NCAA rules and ineligible.
“Our compliance office spoke with Anthony Johnson, and he said he was not aware that his image was being used to promote a party,” LSU Associate Vice-Chancellor for University Relations Herb Vincent has said. “He said at one point he saw it was being used and asked the club to stop. He said he did not know his image was being used in a video. Based on what Anthony said, we feel his eligibility has not been compromised.”
According to SI, Claiborne, who chose to forgo his last season of eligibility and turn pro in January, said he was aware of the party but did not attend. Claiborne plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
If Mathieu, who was kicked off the LSU team in August, allowed his image to be used in the promotions, it would jeopardize any attempt by him to resume his college career. LSU will not comment on the prospect of Mathieu trying to resume his career with the Tigers. He has two years of eligibility left and is enrolled at LSU.
Jefferson, a former LSU quarterback, was suspended in August 2011 after being arrested and accused of hitting someone during a bar fight that reportedly involved several players. Jefferson was reinstated before the end of the football season and played in the SEC Championship game and the BCS National Championship game.
An attorney for Jefferson entered a plea of innocent in February on Jefferson’s behalf to a misdemeanor simple battery charge that stems from an Aug. 19 fight outside a Baton Rouge bar.
An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury indicted the 21-year-old Jefferson on Sept. 28, accusing him of simple battery on Andrew Lowery. Lowery’s attorney, Michael Bienvenu, has said Lowery suffered a fractured jaw and was kicked unconscious.
Lowery, who also testified before the panel, told police officers that Jefferson and teammate Joshua Johns were among a group of people who attacked him outside Shady’s, a bar at 623 East Boyd Drive south of the LSU campus.
Jefferson and Johns were arrested Aug. 26 and booked on one count each of second-degree battery, a felony.
The grand jury chose to indict Jefferson on a lesser charge of simple battery, a misdemeanor. The panel did not indict Johns. Jefferson and Johns told police they were at Shady’s that night but denied involvement in the fight, according to affidavits of probable cause for search warrants of their homes.
Police have said the fight started when a man in a truck blew the horn to try to clear a crowd in the bar’s parking lot. Some witnesses, however, have said the fight was already in progress when the truck approached the crowd.
Advocate assistant sports editor Perryn Keys and Advocate sports writers Scott Rabalais and Les East contributed to this report.