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Assault charge against Gamecocks QB dropped

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- An assault charge against South Carolina quarterback Blake Mitchell was dropped Friday when a bouncer withdrew a complaint after first telling police the player punched him.

Mitchell was arrested on a simple assault charge and was suspended from the team Wednesday. However, after he pleaded not guilty Friday, bouncer Kylan Ertzberger told the judge he will not pursue the charge. He said he had not been threatened or forced into his decision.

A manager at the bar asked the judge to ban Mitchell from the establishment, and the judge agreed.

Neither Mitchell nor Ertzberger spoke to reporters after the hearing. Ertzberger is a 19-year-old sophomore at the university, the school said.

Mitchell, in a statement issued through attorney Neal Lourie, apologized to Ertzberger, the university, fans and teammates and coaches.

"I'm glad to have this behind me so I can focus on my education and the rest of the football season," he said. "I truly
appreciate the support that this community has shown me."

Mitchell will be in uniform Saturday night against Wofford but won't play, coach Steve Spurrier said. The quarterback will return to the team next week at practice and be available to play against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 23, school spokesman Steve Fink said.

Spurrier said before the fight he hadn't planned to
use Mitchell much Saturday night -- partly
because of a lingering hand injury and also because of the
Gamecocks' poor offensive performance the first two games. Spurrier
said Syvelle Newton would start.

The team is ranked 99th nationally on offense of 119 NCAA
Division I-A teams. Mitchell had completed almost 64 percent of his
passes in the win at Mississippi State and loss against Georgia,
but he hadn't thrown a touchdown pass.

The coach said Mitchell spoke to him Wednesday about what
happened, but Spurrier wanted to wait for the legal situation to be
resolved before deciding on any further punishments.

"It was sort of shock to a lot of us that I've never seen Blake
angry yet," Spurrier said Thursday night. "He's had a lot of
reasons to be angry the way the our line has opened the gates on
him at time."

But Spurrier insisted football players must remain in control
off the field.

"You can't fight as college football players, you can't do it," he said. "Obviously, they pushed Blake over the edge, I
guess."