Six Miss. State players face felony charges

Updated: April 3, 2006, 5:28 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press