UK’s Hatcher dismissed from football team after marijuana trafficking charge – Lexington Herald Leader
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Jason Hatcher’s turbulent University of Kentucky football career ended Monday with a short statement from the school saying the linebacker had been dismissed from the team.
The dismissal came hours after Hatcher was charged with two felonies after he was arrested with a pound of marijuana, according to the Franklin County sheriff.
And it came after the junior from Louisville Trinity had previous brushes with the law and team troubles.
His latest incident centered around a traffic stop early Monday when police found three-fourths of a pound of marijuana in a vacuum-sealed bag in the passenger seat floorboard of Hatcher’s 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe and a quarter of a pound “stuck down his pants,” according to Sheriff Pat Melton.
Radar caught Hatcher going 81 mph in a 70 mph zone on eastbound Interstate 64 and he was stopped about 1 a.m. near the Frankfort exit, Melton said. A deputy “detected a very strong odor” of marijuana and had Hatcher step out of the SUV while the deputy got gloves for a search.
While getting his gloves in the squad car, the deputy observed Hatcher using the light on his phone to search his SUV, Melton said.
When the deputy got back to Hatcher, “it was obvious that there was something unnatural sticking out of his pants,” Melton said.
The trafficking charge qualifies as a Class D felony and carries a one- to five-year jail sentence, Melton said. He said the tampering with physical evidence charge is also a Class D felony.
Hatcher was also charged with possessing drug paraphernalia and speeding 11 miles over the limit.
Hatcher was booked into the Franklin County Regional Jail at 2:35 a.m. Monday. He was released later Monday morning.
In 2014, Hatcher was allegedly cited for marijuana possession along with former Trinity teammate James Quick. The charge was dismissed and later expunged after Hatcher completed a marijuana education program.
He missed the first two games of last season for a university-sanctioned suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules.
As a freshman, Hatcher was one of three players suspended for a November game at Georgia.
In an interview with a select group of media in December, UK head coach Mark Stoops sounded confident that the soon-to-be senior had learned from his past problems.
“I saw some growth in him as a person and on the field,” Stoops said of Hatcher, who played in nine games and started five as a junior in 2015. Battling through an ankle injury as well, he finished UK’s 5-7 season with 39 tackles, including two sacks.
“I would love to see him just have a big senior year on the field and off. He’s doing the right things and I expect him to stay that way.”
The statement from UK on Monday said the school and Stoops would have no further comment on Hatcher’s dismissal.
Hatcher, who had 3.5 of his 5.5 tackles for loss in the final three games of the season as well as a sack,was expected to be a go-to pass rusher for Kentucky. He was third on the team in tackles for loss despite limited playing time.
UK was last in the league in sacks last season with just 17 and only nine in league play. It was the Cats’ fewest number of sacks since 2009.
Their 53 tackles for loss last season was tied for the fewest in the league and was 122nd nationally out of 128 teams. Kentucky now returns just one player who recorded two tackles for loss or more last season in Denzil Ware.
With graduated players and Hatcher’s dismissal, UK loses 67.6 percent of its sacks and 66 percent of its tackles for loss.
In that December interview, Stoops said he felt better about the Cats’ depth at outside linebacker.
The coach mentioned the addition of transfers Courtney Love (Nebraska) and De’Niro Laster (Minnesota) and the return of Kobie Walker, who is back after missing last season with injury and academic problems.