All-SEC Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson was arrested along with defensive back Hootie Jones and is now facing felony charges. Could he be suspended for the opener against USC?
Crimson Tide left tackle Cam Robinson and defensive back Lawrence “Hootie” Jones were arrested early Tuesday morning. Robinson was charged with a felony for illegal possession of a stolen firearm. Both were charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
That’s bad news for Alabama and potentially great news for USC.
Robinson was an All-SEC first teamer in 2015 and a freshman All-American in 2014. Widely considered one of the top left tackles in the country this season, he’s also a highly-coveted prospect for next year’s NFL Draft.
Most importantly, he is one of three returning starters on the Tide offensive line. That number looks likely to reduce to two.
Head coach Nick Saban released a statement shortly after the arrests became public saying, “We are aware of the situation involving Hootie Jones and Cam Robinson and are in the process of gathering facts to determine what internal action needs to be taken.”
The felony gun charge is a serious one — it carries a sentence of no less than one year with a conviction per AL.com’s Michael Casagrande. Even if that goes away, the more straight forward marijuana charge would be reason enough for discipline on Alabama’s part.
As that fact gathering continues, it seems likely that this situation will end with suspensions of some variety. It would be a surprise if either player suited up against USC for the season opener in Arlington.
That means Alabama would be without their best returning lineman and faces the prospect of fielding three new starters on the offensive line, protecting a rookie quarterback.
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Last year’s star center, Ryan Kelly, was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft by Indianapolis. Alabama also lost Dominick Jackson to graduation.
Just last week, the Tide parted ways with five-star junior college transfer Charles Baldwin, who was expected to fill a role up front but was dismissed for a violation of team rules.
On defense, a potential suspension for Jones wouldn’t have the same level of impact but he was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. After serving as a back up for two years he was on track to battle for the third safety spot as a rotational player in 2016.
Alabama’s ability to reload under Saban can’t be underestimated. For every top player lost there’s another talented replacement to step in. Still, the Tide being without a player of Robinson’s caliber for even one game certainly helps USC’s chances of pulling off an upset.