Punter Brad Wing’s season is over, and his career at LSU could be as well after he was suspended Thursday.
LSU announced Wing’s suspension for the Tigers’ game against Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve in the Georgia Dome. A news release said he was suspended for violating an unspecified team rule.
Tiger Rag, citing an unidentified source in the athletic department, said the violation was a failed drug test. That source also said Wing sat out the season opener against North Texas because of another failed drug test — not because of a sore hamstring, as LSU stated at the time.
Wing, a redshirt sophomore from Melbourne, Australia, who played at Parkview Baptist, is eligible to enter the NFL draft in April, and he said during the season that he would consider doing so. The deadline for underclassmen to declare comes next month.
Fellow Australian Jamie Keehn, a freshman from Queensland whom Wing hosted on his recruiting visit, will handle the punting duties against Clemson. Keehn averaged 41.0 yards on three punts with a long of 51 and one downed inside the 20 against North Texas.
Seth Fruge, who took Wing’s place as the holder against North Texas, is expected to do the same against Clemson.
Wing has been a weapon for the Tigers the past two seasons, though he was not as consistent this season as he was in 2011, when he was an All-American. He averaged 44.8 yards on 59 punts this year and placed 21 inside the 20. Opponents totaled 62 yards on 15 returns.
Wing had perhaps the worst game of his career Oct. 13 when he averaged 33.5 yards on four punts, two of which traveled fewer than 25 yards, in a 23-21 victory against South Carolina. He finished strong, though, averaging 48.2 yards on six punts, including a season-long 69-yarder, in a 20-13 victory against Arkansas in the regular-season finale Nov. 23.
Wing, one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation’s top punter, on Sunday received the Special Teams Coaches Award at LSU’s senior banquet.
As a freshman, he averaged 44.4 yards on 59 punts and had 27 downed inside the 20. Opponents returned 20 of his punts for a total of 73 yards. He had a key 73-yard punt, third-longest in LSU history, in a 9-6 overtime victory at Alabama.
His most attention-grabbing play was one that drew a penalty. In a 41-11 victory against Florida, Wing ran 52 yards out of punt formation for an apparent touchdown, but the run was reduced to a 44-yard gain when Wing was flagged for taunting after he waved his arms at the Gators’ 8-yard line.
In addition to his dynamic punting, Wing’s accent and outgoing personality made him unusually popular for a punter. He has nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter.
The Tigers will continue preparations for their final game without one of their more distinctive personalities. That’s reminiscent of how this season began.
Preparations for the season opener were marked by the departure of another distinctive personality: All-America cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off the team Aug. 10, reportedly for multiple failed drug tests. Mathieu since has said he would enter the draft and forfeited his remaining eligibility by hiring an agent.