March 11, 2009
Tim Pratt -
STARKVILLE -- A former Mississippi State and Columbus High School football player was arrested last week during a traffic stop in Starkville and now faces felony charges.
Starkville police pulled over Gabriel O''Neal, 23, on March 4 for speeding on Highway 182 near Lafayette Street, according to SPD Sgt. Shawn Word. While approaching the vehicle, officers smelled what they believed to be marijuana.
Upon search of the vehicle, police discovered roughly 2 ounces of marijuana, Word said. Additionally, officers learned the 2009 Nissan Altima driven by O''Neal had been reported stolen out of Austin, Texas.
O''Neal was charged with one count of felony possession of marijuana and one count of possession of stolen property. He was held overnight in Clay County Jail and released on a combined $10,000 bond for the two counts, Word said.
Police do not believe O''Neal stole the vehicle.
"I have an idea how he got it, but we''re not going to comment on that right now," Word said of the car.
O''Neal had a passenger in the car when he was stopped, but the passenger wasn''t charged because he had no knowledge of the drugs or the stolen car, Word said.
O''Neal was a linebacker at Mississippi State from 2004-07. His senior season he helped the Bulldogs beat Central Florida 10-3 in the Liberty Bowl and finish with an 8-5 record.
He played all 13 games his senior season at strong linebacker and finished third on the team with 74 tackles. He also returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown against Tulane, forced a fumble, and recovered two fumbles.
O''Neal is a 2004 graduate of Columbus High, lettering three years on the football team.
He played primarily on offense his senior year at Columbus because of injuries to other players. He was forced to play quarterback and running back out of necessity, and he completed 11 of 29 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown with one interception, while rushing for 524 yards and six touchdowns on 100 carries.