Rutgers University dismisses 5 football players accused in assault, home invasion incidents

Even a 63-13 win over Norfolk State couldn't rid Rutgers of the dark cloud hanging over the football program.

Just 10 minutes before the season opener, coach Kyle Flood announced that Rutgers had dismissed five players from its football team following their arrests earlier this week.

Defensive backs Nadir Barnwell, Dre Boggs, Ruhann Peele, Delon Stephenson and fullback Razohnn Gross were kicked off the team. Barnwell, Boggs and Stephenson were slated to be starters.

"I really don't have any comment on them," running back Paul James said. "Five guys don't determine how we are as a team."

On Thursday, the Middlesex County prosecutor's office announced Barnwell, Peele, Gross and Stephenson were charged with aggravated assault, riot and conspiracy to commit a riot for a fight in April that left a man with a broken jaw.

The county prosecutor's office also said Boggs was charged in two home-invasion robberies in April and May.

"It rips you apart inside," Flood said. "As the head coach, what you try to do with over a hundred players on your team is you try to bring people into their lives to help them make good decisions. And when something like this happens, as the figurehead father of the program, it just rips you apart inside."

As for the having your teammates arrested on Thursday morning, all of whom were on the two-deep, the leaders of the team made sure to address the issue.

"The captains, we met with the team on Thursday, we talked to them and we said, 'what those guys did, it's over.' We felt at the time our team was not focused because that's what they were concerned about," senior receiver Leonte Carroo said, who caught three touchdowns in Saturday's game after sitting out the first half because of a curfew violation.

"At the end of the day those are our teammates, those are our brothers, so a lot of guys were concerned, but we knew we had a game coming up and that's what we had to focus on, so we had to kind of talk to the team and say hey guys, it's over, whatever happened happened and now we have to focus on being 1-0," the senior said.

Fellow captain Darius Hamilton put it simply.

"Adversity strikes in all families," Hamilton repeatedly said when answering questions about the arrests. "Now it's just time to rally together which we've been doing. Couldn't be more proud on how the guys performed together, so just moving on."

At least from the arrests.

Barnwell also is at the center of an investigation into whether Flood broke school and NCAA rules by contacting a teacher about a grade he received. An investigation that is ongoing.

"When you care about someone you never want to see them go through ups and downs," Hamilton said of his coach. "But that's what we're here for. We rally. We're rallying together."

As for a negative perception of the program, Hamilton has a simple message for those who feel that way.

"We're a great group of guys and we love each other, will do anything for each other and do anything for our coach because they would do the exact same for us," Hamilton said. "It's just time to rally around and play football. We went out and did that today and now we're focused on Washington State."

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