AUSTIN, Texas — Texas defensive end Henry Melton and linebacker Sergio Kindle will miss the first three games of the 2007 season after being charged in separate DWI cases over the summer.
Kindle and Melton will miss games against Arkansas State, TCU and Central Florida as punishment for being arrested over the summer. The announcement came from coach Mack Brown as the Longhorns reported to training camp Sunday.
The players will also be held out of the first couple of days of practice when they will visit with an unidentified woman whose child was crippled by a drunk driver, Brown said. The players must perform some form of community service on behalf of the team before they will be allowed to play.
"I think we've got to send a message, and kids have to learn," Brown said. "It is a good opportunity for our football team to step up and talk about how serious we feel about drinking and driving."
Kindle, a sophomore, was expected to compete for significant playing time this season after playing in 11 games in 2006. Melton, a former short-yardage running back, moved to defensive end full time in the spring.
"This punishes the team. They are both good players," Brown said.
Several Longhorns have faced criminal charges in recent months.
A third player, freshman linebacker Dre Jones, was suspended indefinitely last week after being charged with aggravated robbery. Former safety Robert Joseph was also charged, but he had already left the team after being arrested in a separate incident over the summer.
Brown doesn't think the arrests have ruined his reputation for running a clean program.
"I need to step up and take responsibility for anything negative and to be a strong leader," Brown said.
Senior defensive lineman Frank Okam said other players can learn from the suspensions.
"Here you have a standard you have to uphold and be accountable for," Okam said.
Also on Sunday, running backs coach Ken Rucker announced that he has prostate cancer. Rucker said the illness was diagnosed after a regular visit with his doctor and that the disease was caught early. Although he initially hoped to have surgery after the season, it is scheduled for Aug. 27. Rucker will coach until then and said he hopes to return before the end of the season.
"When you have cancer, you want to get it out," Rucker said. "With time, I'm going to be fine."
Brown said he hoped that by the start of practice Monday, his team will focus on the Sept. 1 opener against Arkansas State instead of off-field troubles.
"I've spent more time the last 10 days thinking about things other than football," Brown said. "I'd like to get back to football."