The fact that star Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil was arrested on Friday for punching his stepfather -- an incident head coach Hugh Freeze confirmed to ESPN on Saturday -- is initially alarming. But Tunsil's actions sound as if they may actually be tinged with valor: according to Freeze and other sources, Tunsil was defending his mother.
"We can confirm that Laremy Tunsil turned himself in and was arrested for a misdemeanor, domestic violence-simple assault," Freeze said in a statement released to ESPN. "The incident occurred Thursday night and involves Laremy defending his mother against his stepfather."
"Laremy realizes he could have handled it differently, but I am proud of him for standing up for his mother and protecting his family. Laremy and his mother have also pressed charges against the stepfather. As we gather more facts, we will act and make decisions accordingly."
Rumors of the arrest cropped up on the message boards early Friday, but this is the first substantive information we've heard. Freeze's account was backed up by an unnamed source that told ESPN, "His stepfather shoved his mom and Laremy punched him. It's as simple as that. He was defending his mother."
UPDATE: The Clarion-Ledger reached out for comment from the stepdad, Lindsey Miller, and unsurprisingly, his account differs from that of Freeze's. Miller claims that he never pushed his wife, that Tunsil instigated an argument and struck Miller six or seven times. Miller requested and received a restraining order against Tunsil on Friday.
The details should get a bit more clear on Monday when the police report becomes available. Given that Freeze publicly lauded Tunsil, you would think that he has enough inside info to believe his star offensive lineman's side of the story -- which would make any disciplinary action or suspension unlikely.
The Preseason All-American, who's still working his way back from a devastating leg injury in the Peach Bowl, is the only sure thing on Ole Miss' shaky offensive line. Tunsil is considered by most NFL Draft experts to be a top five pick in 2016.