Tulsa will be without its best defensive player when it opens the season Thursday night against Bowling Green.
Senior free safety Demarco Nelson (6 feet, 192 pounds), a preseason first-team All-Conference USA selection, has been suspended because he has not met the required NCAA progress toward his degree. The school's website lists Nelson as majoring in arts and sciences.
While he was suspended only for the opener, the Tulsa World reported that Nelson's status for the rest of the season is unknown; it also was reported that Tulsa has appealed for his reinstatement.
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Nelson has played in all 40 games of his career, including starting each of the past 39. That streak is tied for second among current NCAA players. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray leads with 41, and Nelson is tied with Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson and Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Nelson has 239 career tackles; he also has eight interceptions, 14 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He seems likely to be replaced in the starting lineup by redshirt freshman Matt Linscott (6-2, 210), who began his career as a walk-on.
Bowling Green's passing attack is expected to be a good one. Quarterback Matt Schilz is a four-year starter, and sophomore wide receiver Chris Gallon should contend for All-CUSA honors this fall. Tight end Alex Bayer is a weapon, too.