Updated: Auburn pulls plug on Nick Marshall's SEC media days appearance

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 13, 2014 

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall is surrounded by media after leading the Tigers to a 59-42 win over Missouri in the SEC Championship in December. Whether he'll appear at SEC media days on Monday is unknown after Marshall was given a citation for marijuana possession last week.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

AUBURN, Ala. — One overarching question surrounded Auburn on the eve of SEC media days Sunday night: Will Nick Marshall be in attendance come Monday afternoon?

The answer came in an official release from the athletic department Sunday night: No.

Just last week it was announced Marshall would be one of three Tigers to appear at media days. But that was before he received a pair of citations — one for possession of marijuana less than an ounce and another for excessive window tint — Friday afternoon in Reynolds, Ga. He was not arrested.

He'll now be sitting at home, however, with C.J. Uzomah announced as his replacement. Uzomah, a senior tight end recently named to the Mackey Award watch list, will join Auburn's other two representatives, center Reese Dismukes and defensive tackle Gabe Wright.

Malzahn did not comment on why he decided against bringing Marshall to media days. However, the release noted that the coach planned to address the situation at some point Monday.

Marshall accounted for 3,044 yards (1,976 passing, 1,068 rushing) of total offense last season, helping the Tigers spearhead one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in NCAA history, as they went 12-2, won the SEC title and came within 13 seconds of capturing the BCS championship.

Returning for his second season as Auburn's starting quarterback, Marshall was pulled over at 12:45 p.m. on Friday on Georgia Highway 96 east.

According to Reynolds police chief Lonnie Holder, the stop occurred due to a "window tint" violation on a purple Dodge Charger that Marshall was driving.

"Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer detected an odor of marijuana," Holder said, noting Marshall was the only person in the vehicle. "At that time, a consent to search the vehicle was requested and granted."

Asked where the marijuana was located, Marshall informed the officer it was above his visor.

Holder said the amount of marijuana on Marshall came out to "eight or nine grams."

A court date was set for Sept. 10 at 10 a.m., though Holder said Marshall will not have to appear if he pays the fines for the citations beforehand.

But he isn't the only Auburn player to run into trouble recently. Fellow senior Jonathon Mincy finds himself in a similar bind.

Like Marshall, he was recently found in possession of marijuana by law enforcement. Unlike Marshall, Mincy was arrested for having more than an ounce on his person.

And while Malzahn at least released a short statement on Marshall's indiscretion, there has been no word from the coach or anyone else in the athletic department on Mincy's June 27 arrest in Abbeville, Ala.

It's likely Malzahn will be asked if these two incidents are signs of a systemic drug problem in the program.

Along with Marshall and Mincy, at least four other former, current or future Tigers have been connected with drugs since Malzahn took over at Auburn in December 2012.

Last August, safety Demetruce McNeal was dismissed from the team after he was arrested for possession of marijuana. Offensive tackle Patrick Miller was suspended multiple games last season for what he admitted was a failed drug test that occurred last summer.

Class of 2014 signee Kalvaraz Bessent was arrested in February on felony drug charges. All charges were later dropped and Bessent has been allowed to enroll and join the Tigers on what Malzahn called "probationary status."

Then there is Class of 2015 commit Jason Smith, who was arrested in March and charged with second-degree possession of marijuana as well as two counts of attempting to elude police. His trail is set for next month.

These off-field issues overshadow what otherwise should be a joyous occasion for Auburn. As the defending SEC champions, the Tigers have the honor of being the first team to appear at media days.

And though Malzahn would never be so brash as to guarantee a repeat — let alone even mention the possibility — he was pleased how the team had progressed by the end of spring practice.

Even so, he knew there was much fine-tuning to be done if the Tigers are to become the first team to win back-to-back SEC titles since Tennessee in 1997-98.

"We have a lot of work to do," Malzahn said following the A-Day game on April 19. "They understand that, but I think they have a good idea of our offense and our defense. I think they have the tools now to ... work and try to get better and improve by the next time we get together in fall camp."

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