TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The relative quiet of Alabama’s football preseason ended Wednesday night with handcuffs for a rising sophomore.
Linebacker Courtney Upshaw was arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic abuse and harassment stemming from an argument with his girlfriend. After spending a mandatory 12 hours in Tuscaloosa County Jail, Upshaw was released and practiced with the team Thursday afternoon.
Coach Nick Saban said Upshaw would not be suspended from the team but would be punished internally.
“He is as fine a young man as we have in the program,” Saban said. “He is really a good person and he works hard academically. I couldn’t ask anybody to be a better representative for the organization than he is. He over-achieves as a football player and he’s done a very good job for us as an organization.”
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According to police reports, Upshaw was arguing with Kendall Lynn Grzyb, 19, in the parking lot of the student recreation center on campus when a police officer drove upon the scene just before 9:30 p.m. The linebacker was moving closer to his girlfriend of three months “with intend to make contact with her,” the report read.
The two were yelling at each other when Upshaw grabbed the back of her neck in an attempt to push her down, but she escaped and tried to hit him in the face. But Upshaw grabbed her arm and pushed her away before officers took control of the situation.
Upshaw told officers that Grzyb had slapped him for talking to another girl immediately before he chased after her. The two were then placed under arrest and taken to jail.
“I think he was put in a little bit of an uncompromising position and he obviously didn’t handle it very well,” Saban said. “He obviously made a mistake in how he handled the situation and I think nobody feels worse about it than he does.”
Dave Grzyb, the father of Kendall Grzyb, told the Mobile Press-Register that the situation was little more than “a simple lovers’ quarrel.”
“The cops just happened to be there and see it and they took them both in,” he told the paper, “I hate to see this guy get in too much trouble because I honestly think it was probably initiated by my daughter. I don’t think he laid a hand on her. He just tried to restrain her to keep from getting hit again.”
Saban gave no indication if the arrest would have any impact on Upshaw’s competition for the job of starting Jack linebacker. Eryk Anders said Upshaw took several snaps with the first-team in last Saturday’s scrimmage.
As a freshman, he had a team-high 18 special teams tackles among his 22 total stops. The Eufaula native was also a reserve Jack linebacker and one of the top defensive recruits nationally in the class of 2007.
Rolando McClain, a team leader among the linebackers, said he didn’t know all the details of the arrest after Thursday’s practice.
“I know we support Courtney,” McClain said. “It’s unfortunate that it had to happen especially because he’s a good guy and a good player for us. We think he can contribute to this defense. I mean, it happened, but I don’t think it is going to affect us as a team. We acknowledged it, put it behind us and moved forward as a team.”