The wait for Ole Miss star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who has been withheld from playing by the school this season amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of eligibility violations, could be a lengthy one.
The school is bracing for Tunsil to miss his third consecutive game against Alabama on Saturday, and potentially several more, according to ESPN.
Tunsil is among college football's most talented offensive linemen and was selected as the top tackle to watch in the college game by NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein. As a junior, he could be eligible for either the 2016 or 2017 NFL drafts, depending on whether he chooses to forego his final year at Ole Miss.
Tunsil's eligibility came into question in June when his stepfather, following an altercation with Tunsil, alleged that he had accepted impermissible benefits under NCAA rules not only from sports agents, but also during his recruitment to the school. Ole Miss and the NCAA both opened investigations into the matter, though the school has not publicly declared Tunsil ineligible and has allowed him to continue practicing with the team.
According to the report, the NCAA has deemed a loaner vehicle Tunsil received from Cannon Motors of Oxford, Miss., as an extra benefit, because Tunsil allegedly kept the vehicle for an extended period of time before returning it to the dealership.
From a team standpoint, his absence could be crucial to the Rebels on Saturday against an Alabama defensive front that is arguably the best and deepest in the nation. Fahn Cooper has moved from right tackle to Tunsil's left tackle position, and redshirt freshman Sean Rawlings has stepped into Cooper's spot at right tackle. That hasn't affected the Rebels at all to this point in blowouts of inferior competition (UT-Martin, Fresno State), but could play a much more obvious role Saturday.
NFL scouts have no shortage of game film on Tunsil, however, as the All-SEC tackle has been a starter since his freshman season in 2013.