Greene Publishing, Inc.
Madison County High School alumni, class of 2013, Ira Lee Denson, Jr., 18, was permanently ousted from the Florida State University (FSU) Seminoles football team, following his arrest in Tallahassee last week.
The Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) arrested Denson on March 18 and charged him with illegal use of a credit card and petit theft.
Following Denson’s arrest, FSU Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher stated that the offensive lineman would not be allowed back on the team. He further added that Denson had not been on the team since last December.
Recapping the case, On December 20, 2013, Delmarrick “Mario” Pender contacted the TPD to report the theft and fraudulent use of his Bank America Visa card. He indicated that the card had been stolen from the locker room at FSU. He stated that the card had been used three times on December 19 summing up to $501.36, and had been used without his permission.
One of the three purchases was made at Champs, so TPD investigators obtained the store’s surveillance video.
The video showed several black males entering the store together. Two of the individuals were later identified as Shaquille Walden and Denson. The video showed Walden pick up a red shoebox, walk to the sales counter, and pay a total of $134.36, using Pender’s credit card. Denson was seen standing next to Walden during the purchase.
Denson came to TPD on December 23 to be interviewed for a related shooting incident. During the interview, Denson admitted being present when the transaction was made, but said he merely told Walden he wanted to buy the shoes but would do so at a later date. Denson admitted that he knew that the card used by Walden belonged to Pender, but said he did not know where Walden had gotten the card. He also admitted receiving the shoes from Walden. A few days later, Pender confronted Denson about the fraudulent transactions and Denson acknowledged his receipt of the shoes purchased with Pender’s card, and agreed to reimburse Pender the cost.
TPD contacted Walden and asked him to come in for an interview. He came in on January 10, 2014.
During the interview Walden advised that Denson gave him Pender’s card. He explained that Denson showed him the shoes in the red shoebox, and Denson indicated that he would like to have them.
Walden said he volunteered to purchase the shoes for Denson using Pender’s card. Walden said he knew when he purchased the shoes that they were going to be a gift from Denson to Denson’s father, so he gave the shoes to Denson immediately after they left the store.
TPD investigators noted that Walden is not affiliated with FSU athletics and did not have access to the locker room. Denson, however, did have access. Denson was injured during the time and therefore was only allowed to practice for a short time period each day. Denson would leave practice and return to the locker room before the other players. The lockers are not secured, so Denson would have been able to access Pender’s personal belongings.
As a senior at Madison County High School (MCHS), Florida State continued to mine the talent-rich MCHS Cowboys’ football program, landing Denson who was a two-way star on the line, but he was tabbed to play on the offensive line for the Seminoles.
A late-bloomer on the recruiting scene, he was universally considered one of the top 10 offensive guard prospects in the nation. He helped lead the Cowboys to a 12-2 record as a senior, and a trip to the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) 3A state championship game.
He has earned four-star rankings from ESPN, Rivals, PrepStar and Scout. Denson participated in the Under Armour All-American Bowl, and committed to the `Noles last May and stayed true to his word, despite the pursuit and offers from Miami, Ole Miss, South Florida, Nebraska, South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, among others.
When he was recruited by FSU, he was referred to as the school’s biggest find.
But, the Seminole football dream for Denson is now over, and that door has been closed, permanently.