A disappointing Louisville Cardinals season got a little worse Thursday when linebacker Willie Williams was dismissed from the team after being arrested Wednesday night on felony charges.
Williams, who was brought in as a high-risk recruit with the personal blessing of athletic director Tom Jurich, was charged with possession of marijuana, felony tampering with physical evidence and driving without a license. The high school All-American gained infamy for his long criminal record as a teenager that included 11 arrests, which derailed his intention of playing football at Miami.
Louisville police arrested the 6-3, 230-pound Williams after he was stopped for driving a car with the music playing too loudly, said Louisville police spokesman Phil Russell.
A detective searched the car and found Williams trying to hide a small amount of marijuana, Russell said.
"He basically had the marijuana in his mouth," said Russell,
who would not release the identities of the others in the car
because they were not arrested.
Several other schools passed on Williams, but after attending West Los Angeles Community College, the Cardinals took a chance on him. Williams was given a set of disciplinary guidelines to adhere to by Jurich. He failed to live up to them.
"I'm very disappointed in Willie," Jurich said in a statement. "I was confident that he had turned the corner in his life and was ready to be a valuable contributor to society and our football program. We wish Willie the best and hope that he can learn from his mistakes and move forward in his life."
Louisville spokesman Rocco Gasparro said Williams hired local
attorney Grant Helman to represent him. A phone call to Helman's
office Thursday evening by The Associated Press was not immediately
Williams was benched in Louisville's opener against Murray State for unspecified reasons. He played in each of Louisville's next three games but was not a major factor defensively, despite the Cardinals' desperate need for playmakers on that side of the ball. Louisville has been one of the worst teams in the nation defensively, a key reason behind its 2-2 start and drop from the Top 25.
Pat Forde is a senior writer at ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.