Texas A&M hasn't had a strong defense all season, but one of the notable bright spots has been the play of middle linebacker Darian Claiborne.
Unfortunately, the freshman standout was arrested on Sunday, Dec. 22, on two drug possession charges.
Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News reported on the matter, noting that Claiborne was in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana and another dangerous drug. Zwerneman cited the Brazos County Jail website as the source of the information.
The Dallas Morning News' Katie Hairopoulos reports that Claiborne is suspended and won't travel with the Aggies for their Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl showdown with the Duke Blue Devils:
Texas A&M has suspended MLB Darian Claiborne after his arrest Sunday on drug charges. The starter won't travel to Chick-fil-A Bowl Dec. 31— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) December 23, 2013
Texas A&M's defense will have trouble replacing Claiborne, who has racked up 89 total tackles (seven for loss), two forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and one interception in 2013, per CFBStats.com.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin discussed the importance of the game on Dec. 18, courtesy of the Associated Press (via The Washington Post):
If we can win this game, it’ll be the first time in the history of this program we’ve won three bowl games in a row. That’s significant. There’s been a lot of football games played and a lot of guys come through this room who can’t say they’ve done that. That can be real special for our seniors and it can really propel us in the offseason.
That represents a rather interesting parallel between the two. Manziel has been criticized for his off-field issues, but he never got arrested. Such is not the case with Claiborne, though.
As an SEC All-Freshman Team selection, Claiborne is primed for a great college career if he can keep his off-field issues in check.
However, this is a significant short-term setback for both Claiborne and his team, and it won't help his standing with head coach Kevin Sumlin as he continues his promising career in College Station.
The hope is that Claiborne will learn from this adversity and continue fulfilling his potential and elevate the Aggies next season.