January 16, 2002
GAINESVILLE -- NFL players Jevon Kearse and Johnny Rutledge testified Tuesday that while in college agent William "Tank" Black gave them thousands of dollars so they would sign with Black's company after turning pro.
"I was a recipient of periodic cash payments from Tank Black," said Kearse, a Pro Bowl defensive lineman with the Titans.
Black is on trial in federal court on charges he stole millions from the players he represented. If convicted, the 42-year-old faces 25 years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Sanford has estimated the amount of money missing ranges between $12-million and $14-million.
The players did not testify how much money -- if any -- they lost to Black.
"Tank was a guy I trusted like a father," Rutledge said.
Rutledge estimated that while still enrolled in college, he received as much as $15,000 from Black and his assistant, Alfred "Tweet" Twitty in 1997 and 1998.
"On occasion, I would get more," said Rutledge, a linebacker with the Cardinals.
University of Florida officials said they knew nothing of Black's involvement with its players. The school could face NCAA sanctions if prosecutors prove the university knew Black paid players.
USF COMMITMENT: A second player from Bratt Northview orally committed to South Florida. Running back Leonte Wright joins teammate Mandell Smith, a receiver.
"They both have liked South Florida for a while," Northview coach Bo Lambeth said.
Wright, 5 feet 10, 180 pounds, rushed for 1,310 yards and 19 touchdowns this season in helping Northview, which averaged 42 points, to a 10-1 record. The defeat came in the Class 2A playoffs to state champion Madison County.
Wright, primarily recruited by defensive coordinator Rick Kravitz, chose USF over two Conference USA rivals, UAB and Southern Miss, and Central Michigan.
COLORADO: The investigation of an alleged rape during a party for recruits might take weeks, if not longer to complete, campus police said. With students back after the holidays, more interviews are possible, Lt. Tim McGraw said. A female student told police she was attacked at a Dec. 7 offcampus party. A half-dozen Buffalo players and some of 15 visiting recruits attended the party, two witnesses told the Daily Camera.
NORTH CAROLINA: Starting offensive tackle Greg Woofter will transfer at the end of the spring semester, coach John Bunting said.
Derek Watson said he hopes to play for South Carolina next season once he proves he is innocent of a marijuana possession charge that led to his dismissal from the team.
Coach Lou Holtz kicked the running back off the team Monday after he learned the 20-year-old was arrested last weekend.
"I am innocent of the misdemeanor charge issued against me and look forward to the opportunity to clear my name," Watson said in a statement.
- Times staff writer Pete Young contributed to this report.