Villanova's Jamal Abdur-Rahman was suspended from the university during two summer sessions and will reportedly not be allowed to play football for the Wildcats this fall. The slot receiver and running back's suspension was doled out after an off-campus disciplinary incident that has not been divulged.
The move will create an opportunity for another receiver to step into the slot this season, possibly Freshman walk-on Kevin Gulyas, who is known for running crisp routes and impressed in the Big 33 game. The coaching staff could also convert one of two freshmen running backs to the position.
The most likely option, however, will probably be Senior receiver Dorian Wells. He is the most experienced player on the team that is able to operate in that role, and may be better prepared than Gulyas to make tough catches over the middle (the walk-on has stated that he needed work on that). If Wells starts in the slot, it is likely that Joe Price will start at outside receiver, though former-QB Dustin Thomas and Freshman receiver Michael Burke IV could also challenge for the job.
Abdur-Rahman was one of the Wildcats' best skill-position players last season. In addition to starting at receiver and playing some running back, he was also the preferred option returning kickoffs. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry rushing in 28 attempts in 2011 and was the team's third-leading receiver with 11 catches for 213 yards, averaging 10.4 yards per catch. He also gained 910 yards on kickoff returns and lead the team in all-purpose yards with 1421.
His biggest moment, however, came in the season-ending rivalry game with Delaware. He recorded 291 all-purpose yards in that contest, scoring twice on runs of 58 and 46 yards. After the game, head coach Andy Talley had nothing but praise for his budding star, comparing him favorably to another Villanova notable.
""Jamal played fantastic," he said. "I don’t remember a freshman having a game like that. I don’t know if Brian Westbrook ever had a game like that when he was a freshman."
Somewhat offsetting the loss is the return of Norman White from injury. White was recently named a second team preseason All-American and will be poised to have a big year on the Main Line, already garnering some NFL Draft buzz.
For Abdur-Rahman, the suspension will operate like a redshirt year and he will be able to return in 2013 with three years of eligibility intact. He will also be allowed to take classes this fall and to practice with the team.