Defensive end Adewale Ojomo had surgery Tuesday morning for what The Miami Herald learned late Monday night was a broken jaw. UM coach Randy Shannon, who has not disclosed the injury, reiterated after this morning's practice that the 6-4, 253-pound sophomore was hurt "horsing around in the locker room."
But two team sources said what happened Sunday to Ojomo extended beyond horse play. The sources said an altercation took place and one said Ojomo was "sucker punched." It is unclear whether the "horsing around" escalated into the altercation. Hurricanes message boards were buzzing with similar rumors late Monday night.
Shannon was told about the rumors and asked by a reporter if Ojomo had been involved in a fight. Shannon denied it.
"No," Shannon said. "[It was] horsing around in the locker room. That always happens in the locker room. Guys always get that two-a-day swing where they want to mess around, horse around and things happen like that. You got to move on."
Wrestling and rough play has always been common in the Canes locker room -- especially during camp and when testosterone is flowing. I remember hearing stories from Derrick Morse just a few years ago about the classic skirmishes that went on behind the scenes. Sometimes they got pretty heated. Sometimes, guys separated shoulders or ended up with bruises and nicks.
This, however, might be the costliest game of horsing around yet. Shannon said Monday Ojomo, who started three games last year and is one of the bright young stars at defensive end, could end up missing the season opener at Florida State or maybe longer. The bigger issue, however, is who might have punched Ojomo and if they are being dealt with.
> Running back Graig Cooper showed up to practice wearing a protective boot on his foot. Shannon said Cooper is "a little banged up with his ankle" but will be fine and ready for the opener. "I don't know when it happened," Shannon said. "We practiced, he went walking around, went to the training table, came back - no treatment or anything, everything normal. Then he went to sleep and woke up and was like that. It was one of those freak deals."
> Freshman defensive end Olivier Vernon, who suffered a foot injury in Saturday's scrimmage, practiced "a little bit" Tuesday according to Shannon.
> Freshman Stephen Plein (6-6, 250) has been moved from tight end to offensive tackle to help the depth on Scout Team OL. His high school coach at Fort Myers, Sam Sirianni, told me two months ago he thought Plein would end up on the offensive line because of his big frame.
"He can be a [blocking] tight end," Sirianni said. "He's got good ballskills. The biggest thing with Steve is what his body does. I wouldn't be surprised if he became too big for the position. The guy from Baylor told me that. If you get a kid with a frame like Steve's and his body, that'll happen. He's an average tight end athletically. Knowing the weight program and the kid is going to eat four square meals a day, he might just outgrow the position."