Neb.’s Dennard accused of punching police officer

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OMAHA, NEB. (AP) - Nebraska’s outgoing star cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was arrested Saturday on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, possibly hurting his status in next weekend’s NFL draft.

Dennard, 22, has been projected to be as high as a second-round pick. But NFL.com draft analyst Gil Brandt said Dennard’s arrest could drop him from the third to fourth round, a difference that could cost him about $300,000 in salary over a standard four-year rookie contract.

“It doesn’t help the kid any,” said Brandt, a former player personnel director for the Dallas Cowboys.

Dennard is known for his aggressive play. He and South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery were ejected from the Capital One Bowl for taking swings at each other. Brandt said he wouldn’t connect Dennard’s behavior in the bowl game to the incident early Saturday.

“Jeffery was probably catching a few passes and blocking him a few times, and you get frustrated. That’s what happens,” Brandt said. “I’m not sure why at 2 o’clock in the morning you’re out and what provokes you to punch a police officer.”

Lincoln Police Capt. Jason Stille said officers tried to break up a fight between Dennard and a 22-year-old man outside a Lincoln bar shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday. Dennard hit the man before punching an officer who tried to intervene in the head, Stille said.

He was arrested after a brief struggle with four officers, police said. The officer hit in the head did not seek medical treatment.

Dennard, originally from Rochelle, Ga., was held Saturday in the Lancaster County jail on suspicion of assault of a police officer, third-degree assault and resisting arrest.

He was the senior leader of Nebraska’s receiving corps last season, earned All-Big Ten honors and won the conference’s inaugural Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award.

Nebraska athletics spokesman Keith Mann said football coach Bo Pelini was aware of Dennard’s arrest but had no comment.

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