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Tulsa FS Demarco Nelson will have to sit out for rest of season

Tulsa will be without its best defensive player for the rest of the season.

Senior free safety Demarco Nelson (6 feet, 192 pounds), a preseason first-team All-Conference USA selection, has been suspended for the season because he has not met the required NCAA progress toward his degree. The school's website lists Nelson as majoring in arts and sciences.

After the initial ruling came down last week, Tulsa appealed for his reinstatement, but the NCAA denied the appeal.

"We're extremely disappointed that Demarco will not be able to compete this season," coach Bill Blankenship said in a statement released by the school. "He'll need to concentrate his efforts on academics and be in a situation to play and graduate next year."

Nelson is expected to sit out this season as a redshirt and regain his eligibility for next fall.

Nelson had played in all 40 games of his career, including a starting streak of 39 consecutive games. Nelson has 239 career tackles; he also has eight interceptions, 14 pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

He has been replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore Bradley White, who had nine tackles and a pass breakup in a season-opening loss to Bowling Green.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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