Penn State coach Joe Paterno has suspended starting defensive linemen Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma as well as tight end Andrew Quarless for Saturday’s game against Oregon State.
Speaking on his weekly radio show Thursday, Paterno also said cornerback A.J. Wallace will play against the Beavers and that reserve corner Willie Harriott has been removed from the team.
Penn State police seized a “small amount” of marijuana from the apartment of Evans, Koroma, Quarless and Wallace on Tuesday night. No charges have been filed yet in relation to the incident.
No reason was given for Harriott’s dismissal, other than it stemmed from a separate situation.
“Wallace will play, Wallace was really not a part of that situation,” Paterno said. “But Evans and Quarless and Koroma were. It’s unfortunate, but hey – we preach and preach and preach and then they step outta line. They deserve what they’re gonna get.”
Paterno cautioned that he did not yet have all of the information from the incident and does not have a timetable for the return of any of the suspended players. Penn State police have said they expect charges will be forthcoming, but that it may take more than a week for anything to be filed.
Though he was not presuming any guilt for the three players, Paterno said his decision to bench them came because he was upset that they were near a bad situation to begin with.
“My feeling is that they have to have respect to the program, respect to themselves, their family and to their teammates,” Paterno said. “And they do something as dumb as it appears they did – and I’m not sure they did or didn’t yet – even being close to that kind of thing ... I’m not gonna play any of those three this weekend.”
The police report did not list Evans or Koroma as being at the scene when the search warrant was enacted.
Paterno also said Harriott was involved in a separate incident this week and will no longer be with the team.
“We were gonna redshirt (true freshman defensive back D’Anton) Lynn because I was hoping Willie Harriott would come along, but Willie got himself in a jam the other night and won’t be on the team,” Paterno said.
Harriott had been arrested for driving under the influence and speeding back in November and also served a brief suspension along with Quarless at the start of the 2007 season after being cited for underage drinking during that preseason camp.
Quarless also was charged with DUI back in May and was suspended for the spring and most of the summer while Paterno waited to see his summer grades.
Harriott, a junior, is the fourth Penn State player to be kicked off the team in the calendar year, following receiver Chris Bell and defensive linemen Chris Baker and Phil Taylor. All four had pleaded guilty to various charges stemming from separate incidents.
For Saturday’s game against the Beavers, Evans – a junior first-team All-Big Ten selection at defensive end – will likely be replaced by Aaron Maybin and Jerome Hayes.
Jared Odrick will likely step in and start for Koroma, as the Lions’ defensive tackle depth continues to erode.
Quarless had been running at second-team tight end. Mickey Shuler and Andrew Szczerba should both take snaps at the position.
“They’re all good football players and they’re not bad kids,” Paterno said. “But they did dumb things and you pay for it when you do dumb things. It’s something they gotta live with because (they’re good pro prospects and) the NFL is cracking down with drugs. And I feel sorry for ‘em.
“I wish I could do something besides say, ‘Sit out this week ’til I get all the info. Because I don’t have it all. It’s one of those things I don’t like to see.”