Three Illinois football players arrested on home invasion, armed robbery charges

Three Illinois football players have been arrested on charges of home invasion and armed robbery.

Darta Lee, Zarrian Holcombe and Howard Watkins were booked Wednesday at the Champaign County Jail, according to online records. All three were arrested in connection with an alleged incident at Bromley Hall, a university dormitory. Online jail records show both Lee and Holcombe list Bromley Hall as their address.

The incident was reported to police at 3:21 a.m. Wednesday, according to Champaign police spokeswoman LaEisha Meaderds.

The players are set to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. CT Thursday at the Champaign County courthouse. Lee was booked at 6:27 a.m. CT Wednesday, Holcombe at 10:22 a.m. and Watkins at 10:58 a.m.

Police told the News-Gazette newspaper in Champaign, Illinois, that the players donned masks and, armed with what police say was a fake gun, allegedly entered an apartment in the dorm. The resident recognized one of the players' voices and pulled off the player's mask. Police said the victim tried to make light of the situation, when one of the other players allegedly brandished the fake gun and demanded cash.

"I can say they described it as a prank or a joke," First Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said.

The players left the dorm with an undisclosed amount of money.

"Darta Lee and Zarrian Holcombe were already suspended from team activities for violations of team rules, and will remain suspended. Howard Watkins has been suspended indefinitely from team activities," coach Lovie Smith said in a statement. "These allegations, if true, fail to live up to the standards we expect of our student-athletes. We continue to gather information and will take appropriate steps based upon what we learn."

Lee, an offensive lineman from Fresno, Texas, appeared in six games as a true freshman last season, starting two. Holcombe, a Houston native, appeared in seven games as a true freshman and has practiced on both sides of the ball for the Illini. Watkins is a freshman offensive lineman from Cincinnati who enrolled in January.

Champaign police continue to investigate the incident.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.