Yeah, we know, we know, college football players are always getting into trouble. The vast majority of college football players however, get into the same sort of trouble that the vast majority of college students get into, like underage drinking, smoking pot, and DUIs. Some do commit more serious crimes like theft, burglary, and the unfortunately more common sexual assault or battery. There are, however, some big time college football players out there who have been more innovative with their criminal enterprises. We have scoured the police records and trolled the halls of criminal justice to find some NCAA football stars that have slightly more interesting criminal records. There are some standard drug dealers and wife beaters of course, but there are also a few players who have engaged in, and been brought down by, more unique scams over the years. Read on to find out if some of your favorite college football players ever ended up on the wrong side of the law.
15 Michael Bennett: Fraud
As a backup to Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne at the University of Wisconsin, Michael Bennett did not see much action for the Badgers his sophomore year, only rushing for 298 yards and four touchdowns. But once he took over as the starter in his junior year, Bennett took his place in the illustrious line of great Badgers running backs as he finished third in the nation in rushing, and ran for over 1500 yards and ten touchdowns, not to mention 83 more yards and one more touchdown in a Rose Bowl win over UCLA. He then moved on to the NFL, but once his ten year career ended, Bennett went to prison for federal wire fraud. A few years after that, he was arrested again, this time for stealing over $300,000 by taking out fraudulent loans against the home of his ex-girlfriend’s parents.
14 Prince Shembo: Cruelty to Animals
The Notre Dame star that was never charged with sexual assault for an incident while a student at Notre Dame, did however get arrested for killing his ex-girlfriend’s dog. Prince Shembo played all four years for the Fighting Irish and was a key part of the dominant defense that led Notre Dame to the National Championship game during the 2012 season. While in school, he was accused of sexual assault against a female student that later died of suicide. He was never charged however. In 2015 Shembo was arrested for dog murder. Just kidding, dog murder is not a thing; Shembo was actually arrested for aggravated cruelty to animals. After a fight with his girlfriend, he allegedly kicked her small Yorkie multiple times when it tried to bite him and the animal died from the injuries sustained. Ultimately the charges were reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
13 Lawrence Phillips: Assault With a Deadly Weapon
One of the best college football running backs of all time could have been Lawrence Phillips if he knew how to stay out of trouble. Playing for the great early 1990s University of Nebraska teams, Phillips made his mark during the second half of his freshman season with over 500 yards rushing. With quarterback Tommie Frazier out for much of Phillips’ sophomore year, he became the Cornhuskers main offensive weapon and racked up over 1800 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Despite being a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy at the start of his junior year, and averaging over 11 yards per carry in his first few games, Phillips was arrested for assault for the second time while at Nebraska and only played five games that season. Although he was drafted by the Rams, his problems followed him and he spent 23 days in jail during his two seasons in Los Angeles. Ultimately Phillips was arrested in 2005 for assault with a deadly weapon and was sent to prison for that. While there, he was also convicted for a previous assault against another ex-girlfriend. Finally, Phillips was a suspect in the murder of his cell mate while in prison. After he was officially charged with that and set to go to trial for the killing, Phillips died by suicide while in jail.
12 Billy Cannon: Counterfeiting
As one of the Louisiana State University’s greatest players, Billy Cannon was the very first, out of only two players, to ever to have his number retired by the Tigers. During his three seasons in Baton Rouge, Cannon was the UPI and Sporting News Player of the Year in 1958 and 1959 while also earning unanimous All-American Honors and first-team SEC honors both years as well. He helped lead the Tigers to the National Championship in 1958 and was the winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1959. After college, Cannon was the first pick in the 1959 NFL Draft and had a solid 11 year career with three different teams. Later on in life he fell into financial hardships as a result of bad real estate deals and gambling problems. As a result he got involved in a counterfeiting scheme which involved him printing $6 million worth of fake $100 bills which he hid in his backyard. As a result he was sentenced to five years in prison.
11 Rae Carruth: Conspiracy to Commit Murder
Over his four years at the University of Colorado, Rae Carruth was a key part of the passing game led by Koy Detmer and Kordell Stewart. He had over 400 yards combined during his first two seasons but in both his junior and senior year Carruth gained over 1000 yards receiving. He helped the team to two top five finishes and two top 15 finishes while averaging almost 20 yards per catch over four years, including 20.7 yards per catch as a senior when he was also named first team All-American. Carruth played parts of three seasons in the NFL before his involvement in his girlfriend’s murder led to the Carolina Panthers cutting him. After impregnating his girlfriend, Carruth wanted her to have an abortion. When she refused, he arranged to have her killed. Although she died, the son she was carrying survived, suffering permanent brain damage.
10 Johnny Rodgers: Assault with a Firearm
One of the best all time players from the University of Nebraska was Johnny Rodgers who played three seasons for the Cornhuskers and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Over his three years in Lincoln, playing running back, wide receiver, and kick returner, Rodgers racked up 5586 all-purpose yards which was the NCAA record at the time. Rodgers also finished his career with 27 receiving touchdowns, 14 rushing touchdowns, a record setting six punt return touchdowns, one kickoff return touchdown, and just for good measure, one 52 yard passing touchdown. The two time All-American was also awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1972. As for his crimes, Rodgers was convicted of robbery for a gas station stick up he was involved in while at Nebraska but he was pardoned by the state of Nebraska for that one. He was later convicted of assault with a firearm for chasing a cable TV repairman off of his property who was trying to disconnect the cable for non-payment.
9 Dwayne Goodrich: Vehicular Manslaughter
During his four year career at the University of Tennessee, Dwayne Goodrich was a two time All-SEC selection and was also a key part of the Volunteers 1998 National Championship team. Goodrich had 12 interceptions over his career, running back one for a touchdown. He also added another pick six in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl against Florida State and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. He played two seasons in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys before his legal issues prematurely ended his career. He was arrested in 2003 for a hit and run accident where he struck and killed two other motorists while they were assisting another person in separate car accident. In 2003 he was sentenced to serve eight years for criminally negligent homicide.
8 Charles Thompson: Drug Trafficking
As a redshirt freshman, Charles Thompson burst onto the scene as the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners in 1987. The highlight of the 11-1 season was when Thompson led the #2 ranked Sooners to a huge win over the #1 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers to take over the top spot in the national polls. The only loss for the Sooners came in the Orange Bowl as they were beaten by the then #2 Miami Hurricanes who claimed the National Championship. The following year he led the Sooners to a 9-3 record and was named first team All-Big Eight conference. After the season, Thompson was arrested in a sting operation where he was videotaped selling cocaine to an FBI agent. He was quickly convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and sentenced to two years in prison.
7 O.J. Simpson: Robbery
Of course everyone knows O.J. Simpson has a criminal record. But what they may forget is that one crime that is not on his record is murder. O.J. broke onto the scene as a junior college All-American at the City College of San Francisco before he became a huge star at the University of Southern California. In two seasons for the Trojans, O.J. lead the nation in rushing twice. As a junior he racked up over 1500 yards and as a senior he ran for 1880 yards. A two time unanimous All-American, Simpson helped the Trojans win the National Championship in 1967. In 1968 he was awarded the Heisman Trophy. He proceeded to have a Hall of Fame career in the NFL as well as a big career in Hollywood before his ex-wife and her boyfriend were murdered in 1994. Despite a mountain of evidence, O.J.’s team of lawyers was able to get him acquitted of the double murder in the most famous trial in American history. The crime that finally put O.J. behind bars that nobody knows about was robbery. In 2007, along with a group of men, Simpson robbed a sports memorabilia salesman at gunpoint in the salesman’s hotel room in Las Vegas. Simpson claimed the memorabilia was his property but he was convicted of the robbery and other charges and sentenced to thirty-three years in prison.
6 Art Schlichter: Fraud
A four year starter at THE Ohio State University, Art Schlichter was the last QB to play for legendary Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes. One could argue that it was his fault that Hayes was fired, as Schlichter threw the interception in the Gator Bowl to the Clemson linebacker who Hayes ended up punching. Schlichter left Ohio State as the career leader in total offense and finished in the top six in the Heisman voting in three out of his four years. His biggest problem, which led to his failure in the NFL and his widespread criminal history, was an addiction to gambling that began while he was at Ohio State. Schlichter has admitted to committing over 20 felonies over the years in an effort to steal, defraud, or scam money to support his gambling habit. In 2011 he was involved in a scheme to sell fake tickets to major sporting events. The mulit-million dollar scam fell apart and he ended up sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud in 2011.
5 Greg Roberts: Cocaine Distribution and Racketeering
Another one of the many players from the Barry Switzer era that engaged in misdeeds during and after his football career was Greg Roberts (Pictured Right). Roberts was an offensive lineman on some of the great Oklahoma Sooner teams of the late 1970s. In 1978 Roberts was a unanimous All-American and won the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in the country. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 1979 NFL Draft but only spent four seasons in the NFL. Roberts first brush with crime was when he was arrested for rape while playing at Oklahoma. The victim refused to testify however and the charges were dropped. His bigger crime came in 1987 when Roberts was arrested for cocaine distribution and racketeering as well as weapons possession.
4 Peter Warrick: Shoplifting
As a member of those legendary late 1990s Florida State teams, Peter Warrick (Pictured Left) was a big part of the Seminoles’ two National Championships. He was a two time consensus All-American and a three time first team All-ACC honoree. Over his career Warrick gained over 3500 yards receiving as well as over 1100 punt and kickoff return yards. He also scored 38 total touchdowns. During his senior year, Warrick and his teammate Laveranues Coles got a giant discount at Dillard’s department store. Specifically they paid about 40 bucks for over $400 worth of stuff. Unfortunately, the discount was so large that it was considered shoplifting under Florida law. As a result, Warrick was arrested for grand theft. He eventually plead guilty to petty theft and was suspended for two games. The bigger punishment however was that he had been considered the front runner for the Heisman Trophy at the time, but his arrest took him out of the running for the award.
3 Mark Ingram Sr.: Money Laundering
The father of the Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama was also a college football star himself before he played in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. Mark Ingram Sr., came out of high school as a quarterback but converted to wide receiver when he attended Michigan State University. Over four years with the Spartans, Ingram caught almost 100 passes for almost 2000 yards with 14 touchdowns through the air and one more on the ground. After 10 seasons in the NFL, Ingram began getting into legal trouble. He was sentenced to six month in prison for possession of counterfeit cash in 2001. His bigger problems came in 2008 when Ingram was jailed for money laundering of cash from a drug deal and fraud for cashing counterfeit checks.
2 Rudy Ruettiger: Securities Fraud
The most famous Notre Dame football player, who was actually not even that talented, was Rudy Ruettiger (Pictured Left). The subject of the inspirational film Rudy, starring Sean Astin, Ruettiger held a longtime dream of playing football for the Fighting Irish. His grades were not very good however and it took him two years at Holy Cross and four application attempts until he was finally accepted to the University. He hung on as a walk on, playing for the scout team, until he finally earned a chance to play in the final game of his career. His hard work and perseverance paid off as he racked up a sack of the Georgia Tech quarterback on the final play of the game. Despite his very admirable portrayal in the film, Ruettiger somehow ended up getting entangled in a pump and dump scheme in 2011 and was charged with securities fraud by the SEC (the commission, not the conference). He did not go to jail but was forced to settle and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
1 Irving Fryar: Mortgage Fraud
Another great college Cornhusker player who got into some less violent legal trouble after his career was Irving Fryar. Fryar was a star wide receiver for the University of Nebraska. Over three years he gained over 1100 yards receiving with 11 touchdowns while adding another 600 plus yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He was a first team All-American in 1983 and was the number one overall selection in the 1984 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. In addition to being arrested on a weapons charge in 1988, Fryar was also convicted, with his mother, in 2015 of mortgage fraud. The mother-son crime duo were accused of obtaining multiple home-equity loans all on the same house in an effort to defraud six separate banks. Fryar was released from his five year sentence after serving less than a year in prison.
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