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Ex-Auburn player arrested, accused of punching student


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Ex-Auburn player arrested, accused of punching student

Updated: Feb. 21, 2024, 8:23 p.m.|Published: Feb. 21, 2024, 8:20 p.m.

~3 minutes


Former Auburn football player Prechae Rodriguez arrested, accused of punching student

Former Auburn receiver Prechae Rodriguez, left, is shown here vs. Kentucky in 2005. (Birmingham News file photo by Linda Stetler)bn


Creg Stephenson | cstephenson@al.com

Former Auburn football player Prechae Rodriguez is out on bond after being arrested earlier this week for an incident involving a 9-year-old student at a Florida school at which he worked.

Rodriguez, 39, is charged with one count of child abuse after he was accused of punching a non-verbal autistic student at the Eisenhower Exceptional Center in Gibsonton, Fla., a suburb of Tampa. Rodriguez worked at the school as a behavior support specialist.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the incident took place Feb. 8. The student allegedly struck Rodriguez with his hand and police say Rodriguez responded by punching the child, causing him to fall to the floor.

Following an investigation into the incident, Rodriguez was arrested on Monday afternoon at his home in Sun City Center, Fla. He was released early Tuesday on a $2,500 surety bond, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office online records.

WFLA-TV reported that Rodriguez was terminated from his job at the school.

“Mr. Rodriguez was removed from the school while the investigation was going on and has now been terminated from the school district,” the Hillsborough County School District announced in a statement to the station. “We are deeply disturbed by the charges. The safety and wellbeing of our students is our top priority.”

Rodriguez, a Tampa native, played at Auburn from 2005-07 after spending a season in junior college. Most notably, he caught the decisive touchdown pass in the third quarter of the Tigers’ 22-15 win over Alabama in the 2006 Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa.

Rodriguez never caught on in the NFL but played professionally for several years in the Canadian Football League and with a variety of indoor league teams. He most recently played in 2016 for his hometown Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League.

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