University of Alabama

Alabama's Johns arrested for selling cocaine

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama linebacker Jimmy Johns was arrested on felony drug charges Tuesday and kicked off the team, the latest in a string of off-the-field problems for coach Nick Saban’s squad.

Johns, who moved to defense for his senior year after playing running back and receiver in 2007, was ‘‘pretty wide open’’ selling cocaine to students on and around the University of Alabama campus but tried to hide what he was doing from teammates, police said.

‘‘He didn’t want them to know he was involved in it,’’ said Capt. Jeff Snyder of the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force.

Records did not indicate whether Johns had hired a lawyer. He was held at the metro jail with bond set at $120,000.

Saban dismissed Johns from the team almost immediately.

‘‘This type of behavior obviously will not be tolerated and he is no longer a part of our program,’’ he said in a brief statement.

Alabama players have been involved in a series of arrests and off-the-field suspensions, with Saban acknowledging the need for better discipline and judgment earlier this year after two players were arrested within days of each other.

‘‘I’ve said enough is enough and we’re trying to fix it,’’ Saban said in February.

About two months later, Snyder said, police began getting tips that Johns was involved in drug sales. Alabama was conducting spring football practice around the same time.

Undercover officers purchased cocaine from Johns five times in the last 1 weeks, Snyder said, and they arrested him at a gas station near his off-campus apartment, where he lived alone.

Authorities who searched the apartment found about 10 grams of cocaine and ecstasy pills. Johns was charged with distributing cocaine and possessing the pills, Snyder said.

Snyder said Johns didn’t use his status as a football player to solicit business, but being a member of the Crimson Tide didn’t hurt, either.

‘‘He was popular. A lot of people knew him,’’ he said.

Snyder said officers purchased drugs twice from Johns at the player’s apartment, once near campus and twice at the university. He declined comment on whether officers obtained drugs in the Alabama football complex. But he said there was no indication other players were involved.

The 6-foot-2, 233-pound Johns was No. 2 on the team in rushing in both of his first two years, but he saw reduced playing time last season after missing part of spring practice for academic reasons.

Saban moved Johns to linebacker before last season’s bowl game, and he was expected to contribute to a defense already short on experience.

The Tide is lacking depth at linebacker partly because of disciplinary action against Prince Hall. Saban has said Hall will serve some sort of suspension in the upcoming season. The reasons for Hall’s suspension were not disclosed.