TULSA, Okla. — NCAA all-purpose yardage record-holder Damaris Johnson was suspended indefinitely by Tulsa on Friday after he was questioned by police following his girlfriend’s arrest on an embezzlement complaint.
The loss of Johnson, a second-team All-America last season, deals the Golden Hurricane a tough blow leading up to their season opener next week at top-ranked Oklahoma. Johnson had 208 all-purpose yards, caught a touchdown pass and returned a punt for a score in a victory at Notre Dame last season during a seven-game winning streak.
He has led the nation in all-purpose yards each of the last two seasons. Tulsa finished last season ranked No. 24.
“We’ve taken a stance on the information that we have, but I’m not naove,” Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said. “I think there’s always more information, so we’re going to let this thing play out.”
Blankenship suspended the senior receiver from all team activities pending a university review.
Tulsa police spokesman Leland Ashley said Johnson was questioned Thursday after Chamon Jones was taken into custody.
Ashley said Jones, who works at a local Macy’s, is accused of selling more than $1,500 worth of merchandise to Johnson for just under $13 on one occasion. She also is accused of only charging him 34 cents for merchandise totaling $1,283.
Jones is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 2. She paid a $2,000 bond Friday to get out of jail.
Ashley said Johnson has not been charged, and said detectives are still working the case and reviewing surveillance footage from the Macy’s store.
“They hardly even know anything more. We’re just operating on what we know at this point in time,” Blankenship said. “We’re going to let it all fall and we’ll talk about it on Monday.”
Johnson had 872 yards receiving, 560 rushing, 904 on kickoff returns and 292 on punt returns last season while scoring 13 touchdowns. He is also the NCAA’s career record-holder with 3,417 kickoff return yards.
“As we go through a season, there’s going to be guys with injuries, and whoever the next guy is at any position’s got to be ready to play,” offensive coordinator and receivers coach Greg Peterson said. “That’s part of football, that’s part of the game. We all have challenges in life.
“We’re going to have adversity in Norman. How do we respond to it as a football team? We’ve got to be ready to go.”
Blankenship said he likes his depth at receiver. Returning starters include Thomas Roberson and Ricky Johnson, who combined for 52 catches for 718 yards last season, and freshman Keyarris Garrett has made an impression in camp.
“Every time there’s an injury or a guy that’s out, you’ve got to just try to move on and get to that next spot. That’s what football’s all about,” Blankenship said.
“Our guys have done a good job today of trying to refocus until we know more of what’s going on.”