Nkemdiche releases statement denying synthetic drug use

Ole Miss defensive star Robert Nkemdiche released a statement Tuesday refuting reports that he used synthetic marijuana prior to his recent fall from an Atlanta hotel.

“Contrary to a report by FOX Sports, I did not use synthetic drugs,” the statement, released through the Ole Miss athletic department, said in part. “I realize the dangers of drugs and alcohol and regret the lapse in judgment. This does not reflect the core values that my mother and father instilled in our family.”

»Read Nkemdiche’s full statement below.

Nkemdiche, a graduate of Loganville’s Grayson High School and a potential top NFL draft pick, was hospitalized and then arrested following the Saturday night incident in which he tumbled from a ledge outside the Grand Hyatt Atlanta. Police believe he broke out a window of his fourth-floor room before climbing onto the ledge and plummeting about 15 feet.

A citation obtained Tuesday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution claims 12 marijuana blunts — not the seven originally reported — were subsequently found in the room, prompting the misdemeanor marijuana possession charge filed against Nkemdiche. The blunts weighed a total of 15 grams and an additional 1.4 grams of marijuana were also discovered in the room, the citation said.

Atlanta police have not offered further explanation of the incident and, according to incident reports, several “associates” on scene claimed not to know what happened.

Clay Travis of Fox Sports reported Tuesday, however, that Nkemdiche had actually smoked synthetic marijuana, which is man-made and can have much more intense effects than the natural product. Travis’ report, which cited “multiple sources,” claimed Nkemdiche fled the hotel room because he was “paranoid and convinced someone was chasing him.”

Atlanta police spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy said Tuesday she wasn’t sure when tests would be performed to determine which type of marijuana Nkemdiche allegedly possessed and consumed. Legally, both drugs are treated the same.

The charges filed against Nkemdiche are scheduled to be heard in Atlanta Municipal Court on Jan. 11, more than a week after his team’s New Year’s Day appearance in the Sugar Bowl. His status for that game remains unclear.

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze was bullish in a Monday news conference, repeatedly saying a decision would not be made until he got “all the facts.” Freeze said Nkemdiche got stitches in his leg and back after the fall.

“As I move forward, I have learned a valuable lesson about the ramifications of a bad decision,” Nkemdiche’s statement said. ” … I am sorry for putting Coach Freeze in this position and will accept whatever consequences are necessary, but my hope is to finish this year’s journey with my brothers.”

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