Hugh Freeze: I'm confident in Laremy Tunsil, program's values

HOOVER, Ala. -- Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Thursday that if the Rebels' season opened today, star left tackle Laremy Tunsil would be in the starting lineup.

Ole Miss and the NCAA are investigating whether Tunsil has received improper benefits from sports agents, and whether his recruitment included any improper benefits as well, both of which have been alleged by Tunsil's stepfather, Lindsey Miller. Freeze had little to say about the matter Thursday at SEC Media Days, but his confirmation that Tunsil, would start if needed today, via the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, made one thing clear: The school has not yet declared him ineligible as the investigation continues.

"Whether it's the NCAA process or the law enforcement process, we will cooperate fully with that," Freeze said. "I'm very confident ... in the way we do things and what we can control. I'm very confident in the person Laremy is, too, and we look forward to that coming to a conclusion at whatever time is appropriate."

Tunsil, who will be a junior this fall, is one of the top offensive linemen in college football. Last month, Tunsil was arrested on a domestic violence charge for allegedly assaulting Miller. According to Tunsil, he was acting in protection of his mother, Desiree, during the incident. Tunsil said in court that he witnessed Miller push his mother. Freeze issued a statement following the arrest in support of Tunsil's description of the altercation. Miller has said he only had cross words with Tunsil's mother. Charges were pressed against Miller by Tunsil and his mother, as well.

Miller told police that the argument between he and Desiree Tunsil stemmed from the Laremy Tunsil's contact with sports agents. His playing eligibility for the Rebels could be jeopardized if he received any improper benefits under NCAA rules. Miller subsequently alleged recruiting improprieties as well.

In a court hearing last week, the conflicting stories were put on record and a protective order issued against Tunsil was lifted.

It's made for a messy summer for the Rebels' football program, which was expected to heavily count on Tunsil's prolific pass protection skills in 2015, particularly with a first-year starter at quarterback.

Ole Miss opens the season Sept. 5 against UT-Martin.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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