Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Practice 'A Relief' to Small; the Tailback Returns to JU and Waits for Drug Charges to Be Dropped

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Practice 'A Relief' to Small; the Tailback Returns to JU and Waits for Drug Charges to Be Dropped

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT

Jacksonville University running back Rudell Small resumed classes and returned to football practice Wednesday after his suspension from both was lifted following former teammate Cecil Coltrane's confession that he stashed 20 grams of marijuana in Small's dormitory room last week.

"I'm glad to be back out here [at practice]," Small said in a statement released by the JU sports information department. "It's a relief. It's great to be out here and have all of that stuff behind me."

Small, who can play in Saturday's game at Dayton, hasn't been completely exonerated in the matter. Chief assistant state's attorney Jay Plotkin said that despite Coltrane's confession, charges against Small are still pending. As of Wednesday, Coltrane hadn't been charged with a crime.

"We need to do our due diligence in this matter and are trying to wrap up some loose ends," Plotkin said. "We're talking to some witnesses, and we still have to complete our work, including some fingerprint results.

"If everything checks out - and the belief is that this kid [Coltrane] is telling the truth - then the charges against Small will be dropped. We just have some things that still need to be checked out, like if Small's fingerprints were on the plastic bag [that contained marijuana]. That could take a week or so to get those results."

JU officials wouldn't make any football team members, including Small and coach Kerwin Bell, available for comment Wednesday, opting to have all interviews be conducted with director of athletics Alan Verlander. Bell did say in a statement issued by the school that "it was good to see Rudell back out here today."

"We've sequestered the team in order to keep them focused on the game coming up," Verlander said. "I think the team will be fine. They seemed like a totally different team at practice the last couple of days than the one that showed up and played on Saturday [a 20-10 loss to Davidson]. I don't think we showed our true colors for that game."

Coltrane, a redshirt junior, was the Dolphins' most experienced running back this year, but Small and fellow freshman Tommie Rogers moved ahead of him on the depth chart by the third game. …

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