The headline-grabbing prospect during the 2016 NFL draft wasn’t either of the quarterbacks taken with the first two picks: It was Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil, once thought to be a potential No. 1 overall talent, was drafted at No. 13 by the Miami Dolphins.
As the draft began, Tunsil was embroiled in a controversy sparked by the apparent hacking of his Twitter account, and later his Instagram.
The Twitter video
Just before the start of the draft, Tunsil’s Twitter account sent out a video that appeared to depict Tunsil taking a hit from a bong through a gas mask.
Tunsil later confirmed that it was indeed him and said the video was from several years ago.
“It was a mistake,” Tunsil acknowledged in an on-stage interview with NFL Network’s Deion Sanders. “It happened years ago... I did not know about [the video’s posting] at all. I don’t know who it was...my Twitter account got hacked.
“I’m going to show everybody what type of person I am.”
Tunsil also confirmed he that passed all drug tests leading up to the draft.
Two offensive tackles, Ronnie Stanley and Jack Conklin, were taken ahead of Tunsil at Nos. 6 and 8.
In the same on-stage interview, Sanders asked Tunsil if the hacker was his stepfather, Lindsey Miller, who earlier this week sued Tunsil for an alleged physical attack last June and an “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
On Wednesday morning, Tunsil told reporters in Chicago that he didn’t know anything about the lawsuit. Miller and Tunsil filed domestic violence charges against one another last year, with Tunsil alleging his attack on Miller happened after Miller attacked Tunsil’s mother. Miller said it was unprovoked. Both sides dropped charges in August.
The Clarion-Ledger, based in Jackson, Miss., reported that Miller claimed in an arrest report that the fight stemmed from Miller warning Tunsil, who was still in college, about contact with agents.
Miller told TMZ that he was not involved in the video leak.
"The lawsuit filed against Mr. Tunsil appears to be yet another attempt by Mr. Miller to damage Mr. Tunsil, his family, and the University," Tunsil’s attorney said in a statement. "This unsavory attempt to obtain money from a talented young man is a sad example of the times. The timing of this suit, on the eve of the NFL draft, speaks volumes as to Mr. Miller's motives.”
The Instagram hack
The plot thickened when Tunsil’s verified Instagram account — since deleted — posted apparent messages between Tunsil and a member of the Mississippi football staff. The messages showed Tunsil asking for money and discussing the payment of his mother’s electric bill. The posts went out almost immediately following his selection by Miami. Tunsil did not confirm whether the messages were real.
An apparent admission
Shortly afterward, Tunsil held a press conference following his selection. In it, he was asked by a reporter about the Instagram screenshots.
According to SI’s Joan Niesen, Tunsil denied the exchange of money, but then appeared to admit to it in a follow-up comment.
“I made a mistake,” he told reporters. “That happened.”
Asked again, he clarified that he was referring to the money. “I have to say yeah.”
Ole Miss is already being investigated by the NCAA. According to The Clarion-Ledger, a notice of allegations was given to the school in January, and contained at least five violations that concerned Tunsil.
Tunsil was suspended for seven games during the 2015 season by the NCAA.
During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle. In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles. He later corrected his account and since apologized.