Virginia Tech place kicker Cody Journell, who was charged in December with felony breaking-and-entering, has reached a plea agreement that will lower the charge to a Class One misdemeanor, his lawyer confirmed Monday. The deal opens the door for Journell to be reinstated to the Hokies’ football team before next season.
Journell, 20, will plead guilty to misdemeanor trespassing in Montgomery County General District Court in Christiansburg, Va., Monday afternoon, when he is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing, said Journell’s attorney, Jimmy Turk.
Turk said his client will not serve any additional jail time but will be on probation for one year and must complete 100 hours of community service. According to Virginia Tech athletic department policy, a felony conviction would have resulted in Journell’s permanent dismissal from the football team.
Journell and two others, Matthew Dunton and Matthew Brady, were arrested last December on felony breaking-and-entering charges after they went to the residence of former Virginia Tech basketball player Dorenzo Hudson and Sean Allen over a botched drug transaction, according to arrest warrants.
According to court testimony, Dunton allegedly approached Hudson’s house holding a pizza box on the night of Dec. 22 and knocked on the door in search of Allen. When Hudson answered, Dunton allegedly pulled out an airgun while Brady and Journell charged into the residence.
Journell originally faced felony charges because investigators couldn’t immediately determine whether the air gun was a deadly weapon or not. Journell spent nearly a week in jail before being released on a $100,000 secured bond.
As part of Journell’s plea agreement, he is ordered to have no further contact with Hudson. Turk added that Journell had been put on probation through Virginia Tech earlier this year after a hearing with the school’s judicial board.
“He’s done everything that Tech required him to do and now he’s done everything the courts have required him to do,” Turk said. “He’s a very happy young man to get all this behind him finally.”
Dunton, who was holding the airgun, will have his felony charge amended to misdemeanor brandishing a weapon as part of a plea agreement, according to Turk. It was unclear, however, if Brady received a similar plea deal as Journell.
According to University Policy 1035, Journell’s misdemeanor conviction is subject to a review by Athletic Director Jim Weaver, who must then determine the appropriate punishment. An athletic department spokesman said Monday he wasn’t sure when Weaver would make that decision.
“It’s not my decision, but based on what I’ve known to happen involving instances with Class One misdemeanors, that’s not usually the set of circumstances that would require a dismissal from participation in college athletics,” said Turk, a Radford, Va.-based lawyer who has represented several Virginia Tech athletes over the years.
Since his arrest, Journell has been indefinitely suspended from the football team while still attending class at Virginia Tech. He missed the Hokies’ 2012 Sugar Bowl loss to Michigan and did not participate in spring practice.
Senior Justin Myer filled in admirably for Journell in the bowl game, hitting four of his five field goal attempts. But Myer’s lone miss came from 37 yards out in overtime, setting the stage for Michigan’s dramatic victory.
Journell, a native of Ripplemead, Va., earned honorable mention all-ACC honors as a redshirt sophomore last season. He hit 14 of his 17 field goal attempts.
Redshirt sophomores Conor Goulding and Ethan Keyserling emerged as potential place kicking replacements this spring, but neither has kicked in a college game before. After the Hokies canceled their spring game last month, Beamer said “a lot of our kicking game is still in high school getting ready for the prom.”
Turk said Journell has been working out on his own at an off-campus facility to stay in shape during his time away from the football team. Perhaps more importantly, this entire ordeal has given Journell some perspective on the sort of spotlight he’s under as a Virginia Tech football player.
“He’s certainly much more aware of the scrutiny that’s placed on those student athletes at Tech, and I think it’s a good eye opener for him,” Turk said. “I think Cody’s certainly been an example for others that you’re scrutinized a whole lot more and it really does tarnish the whole program and everybody involved to a certain extent.
“I think he certainly learned that and hopefully he’ll use this experience. I know he’s talked to a number of players already and I think he’ll serve as a great example for the rest of them of what not to do.”