Looking for Mr. Dunbar

The Justin Miller award race heats up. Plus, tough times in Fayetteville.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  March 18, 2009

090320_blotter_mian
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.

Hog Heaven
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.

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