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By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001


MADISON, Wis. -- Michael Bennett, one of the nation's best running backs last season, was arrested at his apartment building Monday after kicking in a woman's door, police said.

The former Wisconsin player -- skipping his senior season to turn pro -- was released after his arrest on three charges, including a felony count of criminal intimidation of a victim.

Police also were recommending misdemeanor charges of criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct.

Formal charges have not been filed.

Police were trying to determine what started the dispute between Bennett and a 19-year-old female student, who live in the same building but on separate floors, police spokesman Benjamin Vanden Belt said.

The 22-year-old running back called the woman several times, then kicked her door, splitting it sideways, but was unable to enter the apartment, Vanden Belt said.

Bennett gave short answers to Meurer's questions and was ordered to appear for an initial court hearing March 5.

Bennett, a four-time Big Ten sprint champion, rushed for 1,598 yards -- third in the nation -- and 10 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound tailback is projected as a first-round pick.

FLORIDA: Sophomore Mike Pearson, a former Armwood High standout, was named offensive ironman for last season at the annual awards banquet. Freshman receiver Jabar Gaffney was named MVP as chosen by his teammates. Other winners: sophomore receiver Reche Caldwell of Tampa Jefferson (big play offense), freshman defensive end Clint Mitchell of Clearwater Countryside (best effort on defense) and junior linebacker Wes Worthington of Crystal River (scout team unsung hero).

KENTUCKY: Brent Pease was elevated to offensive coordinator by new coach Guy Morriss. ... Tony Franklin, fired as offensive coordinator, said he was uncomfortable with some of the school's recruiting practices. He said he spoke with the school's assistant athletic director for compliance about possible recruiting improprieties.

Baseball

USF: John Gorham, who defeated one of the nation's top left-handers in the season-opener, was named Conference USA pitcher of the week. The junior right-hander from Armwood High helped the Bulls defeat Stetson and consensus All-American Lenny DiNardo 6-1. Gorham gave up four hits and allowed no earned runs. The Bulls open their home season at 3 p.m. today against Stetson.

Softball

FSU: Junior Leslie Malerich, who had two complete games (1 earned run, 7 hits, 15 strikeouts) to lead the Seminoles to the Tomahawk Bash Tournament championship, was named ACC pitcher of the week.

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