ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A former University of Tennessee offensive lineman faces five felony counts after investigators say he tried to entice a 14-year-old girl for sex in Florida.
In a news release sent early Wednesday, Pinellas County Sheriff's officials said that 23-year-old Mackenzie "Mack" Crowder was arrested Tuesday night near St. Petersburg.
The statement said Crowder engaged in an online conversation with someone he thought was a teenage girl beginning Jan. 21. Instead he was communicating with Pinellas County Sheriff's detectives working as part of "Operation Wayfarer," which targets men who are using the Internet to find underage females for sex, it added.
According to the news release, Crowder sent four inappropriate photos and solicited "the minor" to engage in sex acts with him. Deputies said they arrested him Tuesday after he arranged to meet the teen near St. Petersburg. Crowder told investigators he sent the photos and that he thought he was communicating with a teenager, the release added.
Crowder faces one count of certain use of prohibited computer services and four counts of transmitting harmful materials to a minor. He was released on $50,000 bond Wednesday. Jail records didn't list an attorney for Crowder.
Crowder, who is from Bristol, Tennessee, was part of Tennessee's team from 2011-15. He primarily played center and guard while making 15 career starts, including three this past season as a fifth-year senior and graduate student. He started 11 games at center in 2014.
He was named to the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll in 2014 and 2015.
Tennessee athletic department spokesman Ryan Robinson said the school had no comment at this time on Crowder's arrest.