Malzahn revealed Tuesday that he has not made a decision on Bessent’s future with the program.
“Nothing has changed,” he said during a meeting with reporters in which he covered a variety of topics. “We are still gathering information, and once I make a decision I will let you know.”
Bessent was charged with two felonies (marijuana possession of more than 20 grams and marijuana possession with intent to distribute) and a misdemeanor (possession of drug paraphernalia) after a traffic stop in Nassau County, Fla., on Feb. 7. Last Friday, Bessent’s attorney, Travis Reinhold, said all charges had been dismissed. An unnamed juvenile who owned the car stated that the drugs belonged to the two other passengers in the vehicle, Elbert Thornton and Artez Ward. In addition, the juvenile told police that a loaded handgun — wrapped in a T-shirt located underneath the passenger seat where Bessent had been — seized during the search belonged to Ward.
Bessent was one of two cornerbacks the Tigers brought in on national signing day. A four-star prospect from Camden County (Ga.) High, he was expected to compete for the starting cornerback spot vacated by Iron Bowl hero Chris Davis. The week after Bessent’s arrest, however, Auburn received a commitment from junior college cornerback Joseph Turner.
Only one Auburn player has been arrested since Malzahn took over in December 2012. That came during preseason camp last year, when safety Demetruce McNeal was arrested on a second-degree marijuana possession charge, which is classified as a misdemeanor. It didn’t take long for Malzahn to clear up McNeal’s status. The day of the arrest, Malzahn met with McNeal, which ended with the coach dismissing him from the team.
Trying to draw parallels between McNeal and Bessent would be wrong, Malzahn cautioned.
“Every situation is different, and I'll always deal with each situation individually,” he said, “and I will in this one also.”
Malzahn also discussed his reaction to hearing former Missouri defensive end and NFL prospect Michael Sam announce Feb. 9 he was gay.
“I think each individual, they come into different situations,” he said. “I think most teams that (has) a player that helps them win and be successful — that's what I thought about it.”
In a follow-up question, Malzahn was asked whether a gay player would be welcome at Auburn.
“No doubt,” he said.