The 2015 USC football season has been filled with drama, and a Chad Wheeler incident with police adds another bullet point to a long list of distractions.
According to a report from report from NBC News, LAPD arrived at an apartment near campus to investigate reports of a man –USC left tackle Chad Wheeler– “punching walls and windows, and injuring his hands,” all while perhaps being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Wheeler then was fired upon by officers, who deployed bean bag rounds in his direction.
As NBC reports, the details are unclear, as of now:
"Wheeler was confronted by officers, got into an altercation with them, and was hit with bean bag rounds. The sources did not go into detail about the exact nature of what led police to use bean bag rounds, a less lethal form of force."
Per the report, Wheeler is in protective custody for a psychiatric evaluation and wasn’t taken into custody by police. Needless to say, that explains why he was not at practice this morning.
USC kicked off their Holiday Bowl prep on Saturday with junior offensive lineman Zach Banner seeing first-team reps at left tackle in lieu of Wheeler.
When prompted, head coach Clay Helton said Wheeler was dealing with a personal issue and stressed to the media that the team was looking for privacy as they sorted out the issue.
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Since practice started at 10:00 a.m., it’s likely that Helton and the USC program in general wasn’t briefed on the incident until right at the start of practice.
At the time of posting Saturday afternoon, a USC spokesman said the school does not have an additional comment on the matter.
Wheeler, a junior, is a three-year starter at left tackle for the Trojans. He’s started 34 games during that stretch, including 12 games in 2015. Wheeler missed the Utah game due to a concussion.