Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle Suspended from Belk Bowl for Allegedly Shoplifting

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2016

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 5:  Jeremy Sprinkle #83 of the Arkansas Razorbacks warming up before a game against the Florida Gators at Razorback Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Gators 31-10.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Arkansas Razorbacks have suspended tight end Jeremy Sprinkle for Thursday's Belk Bowl matchup against the Virginia Tech Hokies following an alleged shoplifting incident at a Belk department store in Charlotte, North Carolina.

According to SEC Country's Jason Kersey, Sprinkle was accused of shoplifting items from Belk while the Razorbacks were at the store for a shopping spree that served as one of the bowl game's perks. Each player was reportedly allotted $450 to spend over a 90-minute visit to the store.

WFAA Sports' Mark Lane relayed a list of the items Sprinkle allegedly tried to shoplift: 

Head coach Bret Bielema released a statement regarding Sprinkle's suspension Thursday, per Kersey:

Jeremy's suspension has been known by our staff and players for several days so we've had a chance to prepare our game plan accordingly. Throughout his career and this season as a graduate student-athlete, Jeremy has displayed numerous times the qualities we want to represent our program. We have standards within our family that must be upheld on a daily basis and unfortunately he failed to do that in the last week. Jeremy's suspension isn't drug, alcohol or violence related but one that will cause him to miss his final game as a Razorback.

Beyond the implications Sprinkle's suspension will have for Thursday's game, the reported incident could affect his draft stock, as Optimum Scouting's Eric Galko noted: 

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked Sprinkle among the top six targets at tight end in the 2017 draft class, and it's not hard to see why.

The senior hauled in a career-high 33 receptions for 380 yards and four touchdowns in 2016, and he showed off impressive blocking skills along the line thanks to his 6'6", 256-pound frame.

"All four years that he's lettered, Sprinkle has been a mainstay on special teams and played the edges whether split out or as an O-line tight end or in the backfield as a fullback or H-back," the Times Record's Nate Allen wrote.

Sprinkle will need to convince teams at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine that he's not a character risk following his alleged involvement in the shoplifting incident. If the 22-year-old is able to ease concerns, he could settle in as a mid-round pick in a stacked tight end class.