Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson said former Vanderbilt player
Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie is playing football for the Braves because
he believes the freshman is “100 percent innocent” of the rape
charges he faces in Nashville, Tenn.
McKenzie, 19, and three other former Vanderbilt players are
charged with raping an unconscious Vanderbilt student at a campus
dormitory in June. The four were dismissed from the university June
“If I ever find anything or if I can get any proof that he is
guilty, he will be suspended from our football team,” Hopson told
The Associated Press on Thursday. “From everything I’ve gotten,
from every resource, this kid is 100 percent innocent.”
McKenzie, who is from Woodville, Miss., returned three kickoffs
for 80 yards against Mississippi State last weekend in a 51-7
The story of McKenzie playing at Alcorn State was first reported
by The Nashville Post.
Hopson said he is aware that McKenzie had an Oct. 16 court date
in Nashville for discussions in the case. The coach said he cleared
McKenzie’s arrival with the school’s athletic director and
Hopson, who declined to make McKenzie available for an interview
with the AP, said the player enrolled at the school a couple of
“We’ll just let the process take care of itself,” Hopson said.
“And let the whole world figure out that this kid, from everything
that I know, that this kid did absolutely nothing. So like I said,
if somebody can tell me or show me where he did something, then I
may sing a different song. But right now, from everything I know,
everything that’s been shown to me through numerous phone calls and
talking to many people involved in this case, I can’t find anything
that says this kid is guilty.”
McKenzie was indicted Aug. 9 on five counts of aggravated rape
along with Cory Batey, 19 of Nashville, Tenn.; defensive back
Brandon Banks, 19, of Brandywine, Md.; and tight end Brandon
Vandenburg, 20, of Indio, Calif., along with two counts of
aggravated sexual battery.
According to Nashville police, the four men are charged with
raping the unconscious woman inside Vandenburg’s room at Gillette
House dormitory early on June 23. University officials checking the
dorm’s surveillance in the hallways on an unrelated matter noticed
the four’s behavior and notified the Vanderbilt University Police
Department the night of June 25. Campus police contacted
Nashville’s sex crimes unit June 26.
None of the four played a snap for Vanderbilt last season with
McKenzie redshirting in 2012. But the 5-foot-8 receiver had four
catches for 83 yards in the Commodores’ spring game — the most
yards receiving in the game.
McKenzie was released from jail Aug. 10 after posting $50,000
bond, the lowest bail set for any of the four men.