|L.G. Patterson / Associated Press|
|Kelcy Quarles says he is concerned a report suggesting he was involved in a fight will hurt his draft status.|
South Carolina's Kelcy Quarles, one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the upcoming NFL draft and projected as a second-day choice, is disputing a report that suggests he was involved in a fight in New York City and says he believes his draft status has been hurt by it.
"I'm (mad) about it because it's going to hurt my draft status," Quarles said, according to gogamecocks.com. "I'm about to do everything I possibly can to get my name cleared because it's not fair. I had nothing to do with this."
At issue is an online report at TMZ.com alleging that Quarles and former Gamecocks cornerback Vic Hampton, also a draft prospect, are wanted for questioning by police regarding an altercation at the Greenhouse nightclub last Friday. Quarles said he was in New York at the time but was never at the nightclub, telling the publication that police are actually looking for Gamecocks defensive end Chaz Sutton.
"I have not been questioned. What am I being questioned for?" Quarles said. "I am telling you they are looking for Chaz Sutton."
Sutton denied being involved in the incident. Hampton, meanwhile, declined to comment and hung up on a reporter when reached, according to gogamecocks.com. He admitted at the NFL Scouting Combine that teams had some concerns about his character and discipline issues during his college career.
Of course, the report and Quarles could both be correct. That police might want Quarles for questioning doesn't mean he is being accused of involvement or being present at the club. It might merely mean they believe he could assist the investigation with information, perhaps to corroborate the story of one of his teammates. Quarles, Hampton, Sutton, wide receiver Bruce Ellington and quarterback Connor Shaw were all reportedly in New York at the time for a magazine photoshoot.
Regardless of whether the report is true, it's perception that has Quarles concerned, and rightfully so. The draft is just more than three weeks away, but NFL clubs investigate character concerns about prospects as late in the evaluation process as necessary.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.