Cook charged with unlawful possession of pistol

Updated: August 24, 2007, 8:32 PM ET news services

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier stood by troubled safety Emanuel Cook on Friday, saying his arrest on a gun charge -- which resulted in his suspension from the school, making him ineligible to play for the Gamecocks -- was a case of being "at the wrong place at the wrong time."

The 19-year-old player was charged with unlawful possession of a pistol, according to a police report. Cook and James Gore III were arrested by university police Thursday night at a parking lot near campus dormitories, the report said.

"He's a good young man and obviously was at the wrong place at the wrong time,'' Spurrier said Friday. "You've got to choose your friends. Supposedly, the gun was not his (Cook's) but he was with a guy with a gun. You're guilty by association.''

The athletic department said Cook was suspended from the university because of an arrest involving a weapon.

Cook's arrest comes a day after Spurrier said three players, including starting quarterback Blake Mitchell, would sit out the first game against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 1 because of excessive absences during summer school. The other players were running back Bobby Wallace and defensive back Chris Hail.

Cook was released from jail on his own recognizance, said his lawyer, Lowell Bernstein. Cook hopes to again be a student and rejoin the football team, Bernstein said.

"He's got no record and this is out of character for him," Bernstein said.

Bernstein said it was neither Cook's gun nor car, but would not discuss any more about the case.

Gore, 21, from Chester, was charged with unlawful carry or display of a firearm.

Cook, a sophomore from Riviera Beach, Fla., played in 10 games a year ago, starting five. He earned a spot on the all-Southeastern Conference freshman team.

"He's one of our best players, no question, and one of our best guys,'' Spurrier said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.