Kentucky football: Excitement for season now bewildering after player charges

Kentucky Wildcats safety Vito Tisdale (7 on ground left (Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats safety Vito Tisdale (7 on ground left (Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

With excitement growing both in the Kentucky football program as well as the fan base, that hype turned to frustration and bewilderment on Thursday when six players were charged steming from an incident back in March.

I’ll preface this by stating as with any judiciary court system in American you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the court of public opinion, all verdicts are fair game, and head coach Mark Stoops knew this black eye was going to show up.

It has not been a good 2021 for the Kentucky program with staff members and now players finding themselves in various Commonwealth detention centers.courts.

Kentucky football staff end up in jail earlier this year and now six players charged

Most of the incidents took place earlier in the year with two just being resolved involving members of Mark Stoops’ staff. The lastest involved players that stemmed from an incident in the spring at a private residence.

The biggest spotlight seems to shine Vito Tisdale, a sophomore hailing from Bowling Green, who is facing a first-degree wanton endangerment charge, along with a first-degree burglary charge.

Other players who were charged Thursday by Lexington police with each being charged with first-degree burglary include:

Earnest Sanders IV, is a redshirt freshman receiver from Beecher, Michigan: Reuben Adams, a redshirt freshman guard who is from Woodbridge, Virginia: Joel Williams is listed as a sophomore defensive back from Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Robert  McClain, who is a sophomore running back from Fairfield, Ohio; and Andru Phillips is a redshirt freshman defensive back out of Mauldin, South Carolina

Tisdale is a safety and battling Davonte Robinson for a starting spot so it appeared.

A statement by the Lexington Police Department gave a brief description of the events as they unfolded.

"“On Saturday, March 6, 2021, there was a private party being thrown at a residence. During the party, three individuals entered the residence uninvited and were asked to leave. The individuals became upset and threatened they would return.A short time later, the three individuals returned with additional subjects. The group forced their way into the residence. One suspect was observed pointing a firearm at a victim. As a result of the investigation, the six suspects listed have been charged with Burglary 1st Degree. Mr. Devito Tisdale has also been charged with Wanton Endangerment 1st Degree based on being identified as the suspect pointing a handgun at one of the victims.”"

Matt Jones addressed it as the story unfolded but said there is more to this story than the brief information that was released. The main point of emphasis will be on Tisdale and did he or did he have a gun and did anyone actually see and prove it existed and was it pointed at anyone.

Other talking points would be if Tisdale has a license to carry one but more importantly why would you brandish one at a party.

Not all sides of the story have been made public and it’s doubtful it ever will. For decades-long on every college campus, football players and large parties especially frat ones don’t seem to mix well. Some will dismiss this as a non-issue and why waste our time writing about it while others will this is a black eye on what is normally a clean program.

Stoops issued a single statement 

"“I am aware of the situation that arose today. Out of respect for the legal process, I cannot comment on the charges. We have been aware of this matter since March, as we withheld the players from team activities while a student conduct review was held. Based on the outcome of the review, the players returned to activity in June. We are evaluating the current situation as we receive more information.”"

The UK athletic department released a one-sentence statement:

"“The institution and athletics department take these matters very seriously. We are closely evaluating this issue before determining next steps.”"

The question now facing Stoops and the University is whether these players can, should, or will practice and even see any action if they remain on the team.

Again you are innocent until proven guilty, but this is not a good look for the team or school when six of your players are facing charges.

As for the other legal woes this year involving staff members it too wasn’t a pretty picture of good moral judgment.

Jovan Bouknight, the wide receivers coach, was arrested back on May 8 on DUI charges by the Erlanger Police in Kenton County which is in Northern Kentucky.

He refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, which under KRS 189A.105 results in a person having his or her’s driving privileges suspended.  Judge Douglas Grothaus issued a certified refusal of the DUI charge due to Bouknight not complying. He did plead guilty to driving more than 25 miles over the speed limit and in possession of an open alcohol beverage in a vehicle.

That mess was finally cleared up and he is back on staff.

Then in late June, Kentucky football chief of staff Dan Berezowitz found himself booked in the Fayette County jail on fourth-degree assault charges after a video surfaced showing Berezowitz and his wife Jane in a physical altercation. The video was not made public.

Berezowitz, 50, joined the Kentucky staff in 2013 with the role of director of recruiting operations. Stoops promoted him to the chief of staff in 2018.

Then on Wednesday according to Louisville’s WDRB’s Jason Riley the charges had been dismissed per court records he uncovered.  The school had confirmed he was under suspension the whole time it was being sorted out.

Now according to Riley, his wife didn’t want to prosecute him leaving little evidence for the Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts to prove the assault who said Jane had no injuries and didn’t want to prosecute him.

Just as the University appeared to have endured any trial or further court appearance from these two up pops the players being charged on Thursday.

The bad publicity from all of these is sure to keep Stoops up at night wondering just what he has to do for his staff and players to be better role models and make more wise decisions.

Drinking, driving, and speeding.

Allegedly assaulting your spouse.

Getting a group of your teammates together and allegedly making threats while possibly waving a gun in a group of people.

Everything is out there these days from police dash cameras to police vest cameras, home security cameras, and cell phones. Everything you or I do is being recorded. People used to get paranoid that “Big Brother was watching you.”

While that paranoia may be true for the government, it’s not the case with social media which will quickly out you in mere seconds.

Stayed tuned for this story to be continued and updated.

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