U of Illinois football players arrested in alleged robbery

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Three Illinois football players are behind bars and will spend at least one night in jail after an early morning arrest for armed robbery and home invasion. Even if the gun is fake and they wouldn't be charged with armed robbery, committing a home invasion is a "Class X" felony in IL that would still carry a prison sentence from six to 30 years. All three are now in the Champaign County jail.

Darta Lee, 18, and Howard Watkins, 18, were freshman offensive lineman who were easily caught along with 19-year-old Tarrian Holcombe, a tight end and wide receiver who also played as a true freshman.

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Police told the News-Gazette newspaper in Champaign, Ill., that the players donned masks and, armed with what police say was a fake gun, allegedly entered an apartment in the dorm. Lee spoke with officers and was booked into the county jail about 6:30 a.m. "One of them produced what we now know to be fake firearm and demanded cash".

"Howard Watkins has been suspended indefinitely from team activities", head coach Lovie Smith said in a press release.

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Lee, an offensive lineman from Fresno, Texas, appeared in six games as a true freshman last season, starting two.

The three players have an arraignment hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon in Champaign County Court. "We continue to gather information and will take appropriate steps based upon what we learn".

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Holcombe, a Houston native, played in seven games last season as a true freshman.

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