Former Tenn. Vols player, NFL hopeful arrested

Posted at 4:22 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 17:35:01-05
An NFL hopeful is facing criminal charges in the Tampa Bay area.
The former University of Tennessee lineman is accused of exchanging sexual messages with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He used phone apps Kik and Whisper. 
Whisper is yet another app for parents to worry about.  
When you scroll through, you can see one of the very first categories to chat about is NSFW, or "not safe for work.”
Most of the content there is sexual. It's just one of the apps deputies used to catch Mackenzie "Mack" Crowder.
Crowder, 23, proudly wore the orange and white as a Tennessee Vol. The offensive lineman often used Twitter to share pictures with young fans and quote the Bible. Now he's facing charges of exchanging sexual messages and nude photos with a Pinellas County deputy posing as a 14-year-old girl.
"The engagement was basically surrounding a sexual nature, which included him sending four pictures of his genitalia to who he thought was a child," said Cecelia Barreda with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies caught Crowder during "Operation Wayfarer," but they say busting adults soliciting minors online for sex continues to get tougher as new mobile apps surface all the time.
"It can be a difficult task but the Sheriff's Office is committed to pursuing these types of cases," said Barreda.
It's yet another reminder to keep close watch on what your children do online and on their phones.
One of the simplest things you can do is go into the settings on your child’s phone and add a password requirement for downloading any app.
Then you can review each one to see if it’s appropriate before it goes on their phone. The Sheriff's Office also recommends you take it a step further.
"They need to check the apps that they're using and if possible get an app that will allow them to see the information their kids are receiving. And they need to have a conversation with their kids and warn them that when they're engaging in conversation with somebody, they don't know who they are. That person could really be just about anyone," Barreda said.
Crowder is already out of jail on bond. He was here in Florida training for the NFL draft. Both Crowder and the agency representing him haven't returned our requests for comment.
Here are some helpful links to help parents navigate mobile apps and website safety: