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December 20, 2012

Wing suspended; future in doubt

One of LSU's greatest strengths going into the Chick-Fil-A Bowl fell into a realm of uncertainty after the university confirmed media reports earlier Thursday that sophomore punter Brad Wing has been suspended from the team.

The school released a statement from LSU Head Coach Les Miles saying that Wing was suspended for a violation of team rules.

Miles did not comment on the suspension but is scheduled to meet with the media after practice Friday evening.

It is believed that true freshman Jamie Keehn, who punted in LSU's season-opening victory over North Texas in Wing's absence, will handle the punting duties for the Tigers, who meet Clemson on Dec. 31 in the Georgia Dome.

Sophomore kickoff specialist James Hairston, who punted in high school, is also a candidate if LSU opts to try and apply for a redshirt for Keehn, who punted in only one game.

Some reports are also suggesting that Wing failed a drug test and will bypass his final two years of eligibility at LSU and enter the NFL Draft.

Rumors swirled over the weekend that Wing's status with the team could be in jeopardy but the Melbourne, Australia native was at the team's banquet Sunday where he won an award for his play on special teams along with Odell Beckham Jr.

Wing, who was dressed for the season opener but did not punt because of a sore hamstring, was tied for third in the Southeastern Conference with a 44.8 yard average.

Wing punted 59 times with 19 of those traveling 50 or more yards, including a season-high of 69 yards. He also had 17 of his punts result in fair catches while another 21 were downed inside the 20-yard line.

Wing's ability to be able to boom punts for distance and with plenty of hang time was a big reason in why LSU's opponents averaged 4.1 yards per punt return this season.

The 23-year-old Keehn, a fellow Australian, punted three times in his college debut for a 41-yard average with a long of 51 yards.

Following a redshirt season Wing went on to earn freshman All-American honors and was a first team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press, punting 59 times for a 44.4 yard average - the fourth best single season in school history.

Wing had 27 of punts downed inside the 20 and had a career-long of 73 yards in a 9-6 overtime victory at Alabama. The Tigers also allowed only 73 return yards the entire season on 20 returns.

Wing rose to near cult-hero status during the 2011 Florida game with a 44-yard fake punt that a touchdown that was negated by a taunting penalty but unfortunately it appears, if reports are accurate, his promising college career has come to a close.

For a player to miss a game, he must have been guilty of a second violation of the policy. This situation is only going to make it more likely that Wing will put his name in the NFL draft before next month's deadline.

Wing is the fifth player in two seasons to be suspended for, reportedly, a violation of the athletic department's Substance Abuse Policy. Cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware missed the 2012 Auburn game.

Mathieu was then suspended for the 2013 season in August. Tight end Nic Jacobs has missed the last three games. He will not play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. According to sources, Jacobs tested positive for a banned substance.



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