Will Dunbar split town without saying goodbye, and now he's facing a pair of felonies. It seems the former University of Alabama-Birmingham football star was required by law to alert local authorities (actually, he has to give them 30 days notice) before he moved to Georgia — one of the little chores you need to take care of when, like Dunbar, you're a registered sex offender, convicted of the aggravated rape and sodomy of a 16-year-old girl.
With the bust, Dunbar becomes an early candidate for this year's Justin Miller Award, given annually to the player who most needlessly imperils his NFL prospects by getting arrested shortly before the draft. Named after the onetime New York Jet and Oakland Raider who slipped from first-round lock to the third round by getting arrested at a house party days before the draft, the award has a long and storied history, with such standouts as Terrell Suggs being among its winners.
Dunbar apparently had an "incident" with a young girl way back in 2004, before he even came to UAB. He kept the incident from university officials until last April. He was almost out of the woods — just a few credits away from graduating (naturally, with a criminal-justice major) — before he left school abruptly at the end of last semester. When he went back to Georgia and registered there as a sex offender, police busted him for not telling the Alabama authorities about the move, then extradited him to Birmingham. Now he's in the papers and every team in the NFL is reading about him diddling a 16 year old. Good work, son.
A 6-1 safety, Dunbar had a big year in 2007 (he was third in the nation with 12.2 tackles per game), but sprained his ankle this past year and had a rough senior season. He was probably some team's late-round flyer before this happened. After this, who knows?
Give him 19 points for the failure to register — not a serious crime in itself, but when you've got a rape conviction, you don't get much leeway.
Here's a new one. A linebacker for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, Ryan Powers, was arrested Tuesday for shoplifting from a Wal-Mart in Fayetteville. The poor sap was caught taking two containers of shaving cream, one package of body wash, a ginseng supplement, and a 30-ounce container of Sleep MD, shoving them in his pockets, and walking out the door.
Health-and-beauty-aids theft is pretty rare among college football players. Normally the targeted items are either athletic gear or some kind of alcoholic beverage. Less frequently, DVDs or video games. But Sleep MD and ginseng, you just don't see that very often. Powers may be an unusually sensitive young man. One wonders if he'll get cut just for stealing items unbecoming an SEC linebacker.
It's been a tough few weeks for Arkansas football. Before the Powers arrest, the team's would-be savior at quarterback, Ryan Mallett, was arrested in Fayetteville for public intoxication. Cops saw Mallett stumbling down the street, unable to walk very well. When approached, he reportedly smelled of weed, though he denied smoking any. When asked to follow a cop's finger back and forth with his eyes, Mallett reportedly stumbled and nearly fell over backward.
Not that it's good news when young men stagger around town drunk, but arresting a college kid for drinking seems sort of unnecessary. And somebody in Fayetteville agreed, because just after Mallett's arrest, news started to leak out into local papers that the arresting officer had been involved in a hit-and-run accident. Apparently officer Tim Shepard had been riding with an off-duty volunteer cop, who drove a pickup truck into a tree drunk. Both men left the scene, and police ended up busting the other guy by following a trail of blood from the scene. This story goes to show that it is not always in your best interests to nuisance-arrest the star quarterback in a southern college town — someone will find out what you've done and put that out on the street.
Also in Razorback news: former Arkansas quarterback and Jacksonville Jaguars wide-receiver disappointment Matt Jones got in trouble again this past week. Nailed for coke possession last summer, he was taking a random drug test as part of his plea agreement and blew the box, testing positive for alcohol. Not that any of us should care, but it's not good news for Jones, who was recharged with possession and waived by the Jags. No points for the violation, but it bears watching.
When he's not googling "wild Hogs" and "pig ew-ey," Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.