It is not too often we see a player dismissed by a college football program have a chance to return, which makes comments by Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham all the more intriguing.
Junior defensive back Dominqiue Hatfield was arrested on July 1 for his connection to an alleged robbery, in which Hatfield was accused of brandishing a knife. Whittingham and Utah later suspended Hatfield, which seems to be the standard operating procedure any time a player is connected to some legal issue off the field. He was then dismissed by the program when Whittingham explained the staff had developed some further concerns about Hatfield’s behavior off the field. So what has changed since July 10? Hatfield had charges against him dropped by prosecutors.
Whittingham said in a statement Friday he was relieved to hear the news about the charges being dropped against one of his ex-players, but stressed that did not necessarily mean Hatfield will be welcomed back with open arms. He did say, however, there remains a “possibility of future reinstatement” at Utah so long as Hatfield meets “certain expectations.”
Prosecutors could still file revised charges against Hatfield, so he is not entirely out of hot water just yet. But for now Hatfield has no legal troubles in front of him to deal with. According to Salt Lake District Attorney chief deputy Blake Nakamura, prosecutors still suspect Hatfield was connected to the armed robbery, although they no longer believe he was the one holding the knife. Hatfield has already admitted to police he would take cell phones left behind by people drinking at parties and try to sell them through online advertisements.
If Hatfield does manage to slip back on to the Utah roster, he is expected to fill a starting role at defensive back this season. Hatfield started 10 games for the Utes last season.