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USC recruit arrested on marijuana charges

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla - A star football player for Manatee High School who just completed his senior season has been arrested on a marijuana charge, according to a Bradenton Police Department report.

Running back Ben Axon, 19, was booked into the Manatee County jail just after 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, on a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to sell. He has since posted $2,500 bond to be released from the Manatee County Jail, according to the Manatee Sheriff's Office Web site.

USC media relations director Steve Fink said Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier was aware of the situation but had no comment.

Police reports say an officer pulled over a vehicle in the 200 block of 11th Avenue West and smelled an odor of marijuana. Axon was in the back seat.

The officer asked the driver if there was anything illegal in the vehicle and he responded no. The officer then asked Axon if he had anything illegal on him and he told the officer he did.

Axon gave the officer marijuana divided into 23 small bags and said the marijuana was his, the police report said.

School officials have not made a decision on whether Axon can graduate with his classmates on May 30.

“We’re looking into all the facts and details of the incident,” said Margi Nanney, spokeswoman for the Manatee County School District. “We’re got to pursue and look at all the ramifications,” Nanney said. “The law enforcement officials have to do their job first.”

Axon originally committed to play at Clemson, and was also recruited by Florida State, Purdue and West Virginia before choosing to play for Spurrier.

Manatee High coaches called Axon up to the varsity team during his freshman year, when Manatee was in the midst of its run to the Class 5A state semifinals. He spent all season with the varsity team as a sophomore playing tight end, fullback, tailback and quarterback in helping Manatee reach the 5A state semifinals again.

Axon, however, had his best year as a junior, rushing for 1,026 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also had 41 catches and threw for an 80-yard touchdown pass. The Bradenton Herald selected him as Player of the Year in 2007.

As a senior, Axon missed one game for violating team rules and rushed for 695 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games. Axon also added 15 catches and made the Bradenton Herald All-Area Second Team.

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