Pitt junior offensive lineman Alex Bookser was arrested on Sunday and charged with driving under the influence after leading police on a chase through Oakland.
What happens next for the Panthers’ starting right guard? Legally, there is a preliminary hearing set for June 26. But there’s also the matter of punishment from head coach Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt football administrators.
Unlike professional leagues, in college football, it’s the school that gets the only say in whether or not a player will be suspended and for how long.
Blair was clocked at 117 mph on the parkway while driving under the influence of marijuana, according to the charges levied against him at the time. Boyd’s situation was more innocuous, with the wide receiver failing to use a turn signal, but being under the age of 21 at the time of his offense.
Narduzzi also dismissed defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni from the team this spring, but did not give a public reason for his actions. Taleni was not charged with a crime.
That’s not a lot to go on, and the list of charges against Bookser, which include DUI for a blood-alcohol content of over 0.16 percent and leaving the scene of an accident — a third-degree misdemeanor — is fairly similar to the charges levied against Blair in 2015.
Would that make for a one-game suspension? Perhaps. There are some aggravating factors, though. Bookser allegedly led police on a chase through Oakland, and there is video of his vehicle swerving onto the sidewalk before finally being stopped by police officers with guns drawn.
The Pitt football player facing charges involving a late night police chase through Oakland NEXT on Channel 11 News at 5 pic.twitter.com/NMQvuvDiue
— WPXI (@WPXI) May 15, 2017
Bookser is extremely fortunate that no one was injured, but the close-call and the fact that it was caught on video my provide more pressure on Narduzzi from those associated with the university.
So when will we find out? Probably not right away. Boyd was charged on June 15 and Blair on July 21, but their suspensions weren’t announced until August 3, right at the beginning of training camp. I’d imagine that Narduzzi will at least wait until after Bookser’s preliminary hearing in a little over a month before dispensing his own justice.
#PittTwitter Poll: What should the team's punishment for RG Alex Bookser be?
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) May 16, 2017
WHO STEPS UP?
The Panthers only have five returning lettermen on the offensive line, so if Bookser is indeed suspended, the team will be relying on someone making their NCAA debut to face Youngstown State in the season opener on September 2.
Tackle Tony Pilato, a redshirt sophomore, is the most experienced of the team’s backups, but he plays the wrong position. Inside, redshirt freshmen Justin Morgan and Brandon Ford played most of the second-team snaps at guard in the spring, with Bryce Hargrove and walk-on Jimmy Morrissey also contributing.
BIG GAMES AHEAD
Whoever the Panthers pick, they’ll be asked to play at a high level right away. Youngstown State isn’t ever a walk-over and the Penguins are coming off a trip to the FCS National Championship Game.
If Bookser were to be suspended for Weeks 2 and 3, he would miss games against Power 5 opponents at Penn State and at home against Oklahoma State.