Fates of Whitlock, Axon still in the air

Spurrier says no decision has been made on what to do with the two arrested players

jperson@thestate.comMay 27, 2009 

Steve Spurrier


DESTIN, Fla. — USC coach Steve Spurrier said he would make a decision on C.C. Whitlock’s status in the next couple days after the cornerback was arrested following an incident at a nightclub near his hometown of Chester this past weekend.

Whitlock was charged with trespassing early Saturday morning after he refused several times to leave Club 330 in Blackstock despite repeated requests to do so by the club owner, security personnel and Fairfield County sheriff’s deputies.

“He shouldn’t have gone to that place if they didn’t want him there, so we’ll see what happens,” Spurrier said Tuesday on the first day of the SEC spring meetings.

According to an incident report, the 20-year-old Whitlock had been drinking when deputies arrived at the club near the Chester-Fairfield county line. No alcohol-related charges were filed against Whitlock or the other four men arrested with him.

Under university policy, Whitlock was automatically suspended following his arrest. Spurrier had reinstated Whitlock from an academic suspension last week.

Spurrier also addressed the situation of incoming tailback Ben Axon, who was arrested following a traffic stop last week in his hometown of Bradenton, Fla. Axon was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell after he told police the 23 baggies of pot that officers discovered in the car belonged to him.

Spurrier said Axon told USC coaches a different account.

“We’ve got two different stories. One, he said it was his, and (another) he tells us it wasn’t his,” Spurrier said. “So we’ll let all the facts come out.”

Coaching tree. Florida’s Billy Donovan has plenty of allies in the basketball coaches’ meeting room, including a couple of his former assistants. Alabama first-year coach Anthony Grant and Arkansas’ John Pelphrey worked together for eight years under Donovan at Marshall and Florida.

Grant, the former VCU coach, was thought to be the heir apparent at Florida a couple years ago when Donovan accepted, then reneged on the Orlando Magic job. Naturally, Grant said he called Donovan when he was weighing the offer from Alabama.

“I talked to Billy quite a bit. Obviously, our relationship, we talk quite a bit during the course of the year,” Grant said. “Once this opportunity came up, he is someone that I can always go to as a sounding board. Not necessarily telling me what I should or shouldn’t do, but just perspective. He was tremendous as the process went on.”

Kiffin on Smith. Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin said strength coach Mark Smith, who left USC before the Outback Bowl to join Kiffin’s staff, remains with the Vols.

How much longer Smith will be in Knoxville remains to be seen. According to published reports in Tennessee, Smith and Kiffin have agreed to part ways.

Smith is one of three former USC staffers who left for Tennessee. Quarterbacks coach David Reaves, Kiffin’s brother-in-law, and assistant strength coach Steve Gortmaker are the others.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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