Carlos Dunlap is one of Florida’s best players, and the defensive end is one of the 2010 NFL draft’s best prospects. But after he was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with drunk driving, it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll be on the field for the Gators in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game — and fair to wonder whether NFL teams are going to reconsider whether he’s the kind of player they want.
Dunlap was arrested at 3:25 AM ET Tuesday after a police officer went to check on reports of a reckless driver near the Florida campus. According to police, the officer found Dunlap asleep at the wheel of his car. Dunlap refused to take a breath test and failed a field sobriety test.
Florida hasn’t said whether Dunlap will play Saturday against Alabama, but schools typically suspend players for at least a game after arrests, so it’s quite likely that Dunlap won’t be on the field on Saturday. Dunlap was the defensive MVP of last season’s national championship game and this year he leads the Gators with seven sacks, so if he doesn’t play, that would be a big loss.
And for Dunlap, this is the kind of thing that could cost him millions of dollars. Dunlap is a junior who’s expected to turn pro after the season and is regarded as a first-round draft pick for next year, but if his off-field judgment is so bad that he’d get arrested for drunk driving before one of the biggest games of his life, that could send his draft stock plummeting. Everything about this story is bad news for Dunlap and the Gators.