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Six Miss. State players face felony charges

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Six Mississippi State football players
pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting an off-duty police
officer, their lawyer said Monday.

Police also charged freshman quarterback Tray Rutland with
assaulting the police officer at a downtown bar last weekend.

Five teammates, all freshmen, were arrested Sunday -- defensive
backs Keith Fitzhugh and Derek Pegues, offensive tackle Michael
Gates and defensive linemen Charles Burns and Quinton Wesley.

Each player is free on $25,000 bond. Their initial court
appearance has been rescheduled for May 1, said lawyer Jay Perry,
who is representing the players.

Coach Sylvester Croom is waiting for further legal action
against the players before disciplining them, athletic department
spokesman Mike Nemeth said.

Police chief David Lindley said officer Demetric Armstead
attempted to intervene when an argument between two women attending
a party hosted by two Mississippi State sororities grew violent
Saturday night. The suspects allegedly began to assault Armstead,
who was at the event with his fiancee, a member of one of the
sororities.