Nu'Keese Richardson has been at the center of controversy since first-year University of Tennessee football coach, Lane Kiffin, began recruiting the Pahokee product in the off season. His most recent--and serious--trouble came earlier this month as Richardson and two other Volunteer players were arrested for attempted armed robbery and (rightfully) dismissed from the team.
Critics were quick to judge Richardson based on the evidence (he was found in a Prius with a pellet gun and clothes matching those described by the victims of a failed robbery outside a convenience store at 2 a.m.) and the fact that he comes from a town known for a string of youth murders.
But a former teammate of his in Pahokee says locals were surprised when they heard of the arrest.
"Back here he was a straight arrow," says the former teammate, who asked not to be named. "There were a lot of guys known to make trouble, but he wasn't one of them."
Richardson and three other individuals--including the 22-year-old woman driving the Prius--were charged in relation to the incident outside the gas station. Police also found a bag of marijuana in the car.
One of the victims, a Tennessee fan, told the press after the attempted robbery that he did not want the players removed from the team.
Days after the arrests, Kiffin dismissed Richardson from the team.
The 2008 Pahokee football team--of which Richardson was a part--made national news when the team captain, Norman "Pooh" Griffith, who was heavily recruited by several SEC schools, was murdered outside his Homecoming dance. The team dedicated last season to his memory.
Kiffin brought Richardson into the national spotlight earlier this year when, at a booster event, he insulted Pahokee and insinuated the University of Florida would have locals sabatoge Nu'Keese's recruitment. Kiffin was quoted as saying:
"Someone at the school was going to screw it up." Adding, "You take that hour drive up from South Florida, there ain't a gas station that works. Nobody's got enough money to even have shoes or a shirt on."
It is, as of yet, unclear whether the gas station outside of which Richardson is accused of trying to rob people was in working condition.