Josh McNeil, a 20-year-old sophomore from Collins, Miss., described the incident – which took place at around 1:30 Sunday morning – as “a huge misunderstanding.”
Basically, a resident of the apartment complex McNeil lives in heard glass breaking and called Knoxville police to report a possible break-in. According to police reports, the officers got no response when they initially knocked on the door of McNeil's apartment. Eventually granted entry, they found several guns on the premises. They also found three young women – one of them being McNeil's girl friend – who eventually were cited for underage consumption of alcohol.
McNeil, who was cited for underage consumption last spring and briefly suspended from the Vol squad, was not cited by police this time. UT officials, including head football coach Phillip Fulmer, say the player did nothing wrong and plan no action against him.
Fulmer gave a brief recap of the incident during his weekly Tuesday afternoon news conference, then allowed McNeil to read from a prepared statement. That statement follows:
“This is all a huge misunderstanding. I forgot my keys Saturday and tried to enter the apartment through Jeff's (teammate Jeff Cottam's) bedroom window. I was trying to slide the glass open and accidentally broke the window in the process.
“I used a (flower) pot that was outside to clear away some of the glass so I could climb in. My girlfriend had two friends visiting from Virginia Tech. They were sleeping on my floor, and I was in bed when the police arrived.
“Obviously, none of this would've been an issue if I'd heard the police but I had taken an Ambien – which is prescribed to me – and was sound asleep. Once I heard the police, I explained to them what had happened. I was not cited for anything and I am in no trouble whatsoever.
“As far as the guns go, they are mine and Jeff's hunting guns, and they were locked in a case. I wanted to clear this up because it is not fair that my girlfriend and her friends are being dragged into this.”
McNeil paused for perhaps 20 seconds at this point, struggling to keep his composure. When he continued his voice was choked with emotion.
“I know that I live in a glass house because of who I am, but I don't want the people I care a lot about being pulled into this.”
The player continued talking for another minute or so, ripping the “Knoxville News-Sentinel on-line” for its presentation of the story, concluding: “You all print whatever you want to about me. I don't care. I'm going to go out and I'm going to practice hard for my team, and I'm going to play a football game Saturday to the best of my ability. That's what I was brought here to do.
“I live in a glass house, and I know that. But when you start bringing people in that I care about that have no business being put in the media, it's a bunch of s**t, and it doesn't need to be put in there. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.”
Ironically, McNeil has been one of the most accessible and popular players with the media throughout his career as a Vol.