By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss freshman defensive back Trae Elston has been suspended for one game for what the SEC determined to be a flagrant hit.
Elston, of Oxford, Ala., will miss the Rebels’ game against No. 17 Texas this week.
With 3 minutes, 18 seconds left in the Rebels’ 28-10 win over Texas El-Paso, Elston delivered a shot to UTEP’s Jordan Leslie on a pass to the goal line.
The play drew significant reaction from the Ole Miss crowd but did not draw a flag from officials.
The conference office determined the hit to be a clear violation of its rule against defensive players over-aggressively striking an opponent in a vulnerable position. Video of the play showed Elston leading with his head.
“This action was the result of a flagrant and dangerous act which occurred at the 3:18 mark in the fourth quarter,” SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said. “The action is in violation of Rule 9-1-4 of the NCAA Football Rule Book, which reads, ‘No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder,’ and Rule 9-1-3 which states, ‘No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet.’”
There is no appeals process, Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said.
“I will tell you that we worked within the process that’s defined by the conference. We talked to commissioner (Mike) Slive on multiple occasions. We talked to Steve Shaw, who’s the supervisor of officials. The bottom line is they have a job to do with player safety to look at these types of hits. We made our case for Trae and our program. Ultimately it’s their decision, and we respect that.”
Slive told Bjork that making the suspension decision was not easy.
“This is a tough position for the commissioner. He acknowledged that there was a lot of anguish in making the decision on his part. Our focus is moving this team forward,” Bjork said.
Elston is listed No. 2 at rover behind Charles Sawyer on this week’s depth chart. He has seven tackles through two games, four of them coming against UTEP.
“We are disappointed to lose Trae for this weekend, but we are moving forward as a team and focused on Texas,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.