Houston Nutt met with the media for about 30 minutes Wednesday to discuss the Jermaine Brooks situation. Brooks was dismissed from the team this morning after an arrest earlier for possession and intent to sell marijuana. There were also other assorted charges, most of them felonies.
"Last night, at 1:45 a.m., I received a phone call from the police chief," Nutt said. "He told me he had arrested Jermaine Brooks for possession and selling of marijuana.
"I was in complete shock and disappointment. The young man had done so well. There was every indication that he was first class person. I am just feeling shock, total shock. That's the biggest word I can think of right now. The (police) chief and I talked, and I was just in shock. I asked him if there were any other players involved, and he assured me that he did not know of any at this time, that Jermaine was the only one.
"We had to dismiss him from the team. I wish him the best. I love him as a son. He's been to my house more than any other player. He's impacted so many people. I don't think he has any idea how many lives he's touched and impacted from our coaches, our teammates and everyone associated with our program.
"I've tried to talk to our players this morning, as many as I could ... on an individual basis. I've tried to talk to the ones that are closest to him and then everyone else, too. Our players looked up to him. To a man, everyone is in shock.
"Raymond House was probably closest to Jermaine. Raymond is in shock. He told me that he had no idea, that he was shocked. If you told me that there was someone who did this, I might have one or two that come to mind, but never Jermaine Brooks.
"When I got him on the phone at maybe 2:30 a.m., I asked him, 'Tell me this is a dream, and it's not true.' He said, 'No coach, I made a terrible mistake.' I just can't believe it. I told him, 'Jermaine, you don't need money? Why?' I guess he did need money.
"He's a player that was a long way from home, from California, so we probably had him in our home more than anyone else. He couldn't go home. He helped my wife with the horses. He'd ride our horses. There was great camaraderie with our kids.
"As I talked to our players, they were all in shock, too. They looked up to Jermaine. He was the one that when there was a meeting he was either first or second to talk. Not a person I talked to had any idea. That's what I kept asking. Even Raymond House didn't know what was happening, then no one did.
"We've had staff meetings to discuss this, several meetings. We've discussed some player switches, but I won't discuss them right now because I want to talk to the players first. I don't want them to hear about a move from you guys first. Let's keep the players off limits today, let me have them today.
"This is so surprising. If you talk to our staff, people in the community ... and you ask them about Jermaine, they'd tell you, 'I'll adopt him.' He was loved. Do I feel betrayed ... a little bit.
"As far as getting the team's focus (on Ole Miss), I don't think it will be by this afternoon, but it will be pretty quickly. My focus will be there pretty quick. It has to be pretty quick. I have 123 young men counting on me.
"One of the things that is obvious is that we haven't had total focus. When you have something like this, it's easy to see why you aren't 5-1 (instead of 3-3). We weren't all the way focused. He fooled me.
"It is a tough day. You look in the newspaper and on TV and you see that the world is not safe. There are snipers on what corner? You have this. It's a tough day.
"As far as our image, you always worry about that. In time, good will prevail. I know that. Right now, it's tough. I talked to Kevin (Tainor, UA sports information director) about ESPN. They've been here all week and I don't think they will zero in on this. Today, this is the news. It's a national story today.
"As far as our drug testing, we continue to test at random. We test 30 at a time. As far as Jermaine, he's been tested, but he was the last one I'd suspect. Every indication I have from what we've done and from talking to him, he wasn't using. Sometimes it's tough to know everything. Our older players are not on campus. We let those that take care of business move off into apartments. He had graduated. He was one we thought was taking care of everything in the right way."
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