Texas CB Brown faces drug, weapon charges

Updated: September 5, 2006, 12:34 AM ET
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas senior starting cornerback Tarell Brown was arrested and charged early Monday with misdemeanor drug and weapon charges, leaving his status in question for the No. 3 Longhorns' matchup with top-ranked Ohio State.

Tarell Brown #5
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesSenior cornerback Tarell Brown faces misdemeanor weapon and drug charges in Travis County, Texas, according to a media report.

Brown, a senior starter, was arrested with Tyrell Gatewood, a backup junior linebacker and special teams player, and former Texas linebacker Aaron Harris.

Brown was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon, a loaded 9 mm handgun, and Class A misdemeanor, and possession of under 2 ounces of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor.

Gatewood and Harris were charged with the same drug misdemeanor.

The attorney for Brown and Gatewood said Gatewood legally purchased the gun earlier this year and that neither of them smoked the marijuana found in the car.

The gun charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The drug charge carries a maximum of 180 days in a jail and a $2,000 fine.

Brown and Gatewood were released on personal recognizance bond Monday afternoon and Harris was released later in the day.

Coach Mack Brown said he met with both players and was "holding them out of all team functions as we gather as much information as possible before making a team decision."

Texas (1-0) and Ohio State (1-0) play in Austin on Saturday night.

Defensive co-coordinator Gene Chizik said the team remains "very focused."

"One thing that's awesome about the University of Texas, you have opportunities to have great depth," Chizik said.

According to the arrest affidavit filed by Travis County deputies, the three were in a car Harris was driving on Interstate 35 about 2:50 a.m. A deputy pulled the group over after watching the car weave erratically and nearly strike another car.

According to the report, Harris got out of the car when pulled over and Brown and Gatewood were asleep. Harris passed a field sobriety test but told the deputy he had been smoking marijuana and there was "some" in the car.

When deputies approached the vehicle they saw Brown, who was sitting in the back seat asleep, with his hand on a gun in his lap.

Under state law, a person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his person a handgun, illegal knife, or club.

The officers also reported finding a marijuana "blunt" under the front seat and charged all three with possession. Only Brown was charged with a weapons violation.

Attorney Jamie Balagia said Gatewood bought the gun at a store and left it in the car after going to a shooting range a couple weeks earlier.

Balagia said Brown picked up the gun only after it slid out from under the front seat and intended to bring it inside when the players got home.

"It was in his lap but he was not intentionally violating the law," Balagia said. "Tarell does nothing to suggest he's doing anything illegal or intentionally violating the law. I think what we have is a misunderstanding."

Balagia also said Brown and Gatewood underwent urine tests at school Monday to prove they didn't smoke the marijuana.

If Brown is suspended, it could be a huge blow to a defensive unit considered the team's strength this season. Brown was likely to draw the assignment of covering Buckeye wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., one of Ohio State's top playmakers.

The Longhorns could start junior Brandon Foster or sophomore Ryan Palmer. Foster has played in 22 games and Palmer in 10 last season. Neither has been a starter.

Brown has 127 career tackles and three interceptions. He broke his arm in the second half of the Rose Bowl last year and had six tackles in a 56-7 win over North Texas.

Gatewood was a former wide receiver before switching to linebacker this season. He made one tackle on special teams against North Texas.

Several Longhorns players declined comment at the team's weekly news conference.

Mack Brown has suspended a starter charged with a misdemeanor in the past.

In 2003, standout running back Cedric Benson was charged with criminal trespassing and missed a game at Baylor.

Before the Rose Bowl, running back Ramonce Taylor and defensive back Cedric Griffin were questioned by police in an assault investigation but neither was ever charged. Both played in the game and played key roles in the 41-38 win over Southern California.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press