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 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.