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Hernando LB Darren Hambrick pleads innocent to battery

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Tue. January 15, 2013 | Matt Baker | Email

Hernando LB Darren Hambrick pleads innocent to battery

Hernando senior linebacker and Division-I prospect Darren Hambrick pleaded innocent to battery last week stemming from an argument with his girlfriend in December.

According to a report from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Hambrick and his on-again, off-again girlfriend began talking in his room at about 10 p.m. Dec. 18. The conversation escalated, according to authorities.

The girlfriend, whom the Times is declining to name because of the nature of the charges, told police Hambrick grabbed her and spoke to her “in a violent tone of voice” before holding her down and biting her. She said Hambrick “did not stop until she was in tears from the pain,” according to the police report.

Authorities observed bruises on her neck and left arm and a semi-circle mark on her right arm.

Two days later, the 19-year-old Hambrick told law enforcement that he and his girlfriend argued and he grabbed her because he wanted to work things out and keep her from leaving. He was arrested that night and released the next day on $100 bond. No new court date has been set.

He did not return a text message Tuesday, and Leopards coach Dwayne Mobley could not be reached for comment.

Hambrick is one of the North Suncoast’s top football prospects and most tenacious pass rushers. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound athlete tallied 49 tackles and five sacks to help the Leopards advance to their third consecutive postseason. He caught a team-high two touchdown passes at tight end, but was also among four starters suspended for disciplinary reasons against Central.

Hambrick told the Times in September that he committed to Missouri, but said last week in a text message that he was no longer bound to the Tigers. The two-star recruit visited Nebraska-Kearney last week and plans to visit Kent State. He holds offers from Western Kentucky, UMass and Bethune-Cookman, among others.

His father, former Pasco star and NFL alumnus Darren Hambrick, has had legal problems, including an arrest in August on suspicion of domestic battery. The former Gator and Dallas Cowboy pleaded no contest to a battery charge stemming from accusations that he beat and raped his then-girlfriend in 2009 and was also charged with battery in 2006.

Staff writer Tony Marrero contributed to this report.

Matt Baker can be reached at mbaker@tampabay.com or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.

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