It’s a sad day in Tuscaloosa, as Alabama fans are mourning the sudden passing of one of their own. Former running back Altee Tenpenny, formerly one of the Tide’s most promising recruits, died Tuesday in a single-car crash near his home in Arkansas. The circumstances around the crash are unclear, as Tenpenny exhibited bizarre behavior in the days leading up to the crash.
Tenpenny was a gifted athlete, but run-ins with law enforcement hurt his playing career. A highly-rated recruit, Tenpenny struggled to find playing time in a crowded Alabama backfield. Tenpenny attempted to leave the school, but he could not escape his troubles. After a failed transfer to UNLV, Tenpenny was practicing with the Nicholls State University football team before incidents this week.
Here’s the background on Tenpenny:
1. Tenpenny Was Found Tuesday
A Mississippi Highway Patrol officer responded to an accident Tuesday near the community of Glen Allan, Mississippi. At the scene she discovered Tenpenny, who had flipped his 2008 Dodge Charger and was thrown from the vehicle. The officer stated that Tenpenny was travelling alone when his vehicle hit a road sign and flipped. It is unknown where Tenpenny was going, only that he was travelling north, towards his home state of Arkansas.
Tenpenny was taken to Delta Regional Medical Center, but was pronounced dead at 6:57 p.m. Tuesday. It is unknown at the time if Tenpenny was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
2. He Was Arrested Sunday Morning For Weapons Charge
The details regarding the crash become even more disturbing after learning of Tenpenny’s recent behavior. Tenpenny was dismissed from the Nicholls State football team on Monday, after an incident the night before involved an intoxicated Tenpenny firing a weapon.
After police responded to calls regarding gunshots, they observed Tenpenny standing in the middle of oncoming traffic. After questioning Tenpenny and detectng alcohol, they asked him about any weapons. Tenpenny initially denied, but eventually conceded that he took the gun from one of his teammates after that player got in trouble. After denying he fired any rounds, police discovered a discharged round in the area near Tenpenny’s vehicle.
Tenpenny was arrested for illegal carrying of weapons, illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities and obstructing public passages at the detention center. He was released Monday morning, and was promptly dismissed from the Nicholls State football team.
3. Tenpenny Was on His Third Football Team
Although this is a sad day for friends and family for Altee, it’s another chapter in a sad story for a young athlete who couldn’t find his balance. Tenpenny was expected to do great things at Alabama, but a lack of playing time and off the field troubles contributed to his collapse.
Tenpenny played for two seasons at Alabama, but mostly saw the field on special teams. Altee was on a depth chart loaded with top talent, including current Jacksonville Jaguar T.J. Yeldon. After the 2013 season, Tenpenny was arrested over spring break for marijuana possession in March of 2014. This led to even less action for Altee in his second season, leading to his decision to transfer.
In May, Tenpenny announced via Instagram that he was transferring to UNLV. While the Rebels celebrated what they thought was a big-name talent, the joy was short-lived. Altee was dismissed from the team in August, after an undisclosed violation of team rules. With two years of eligibility remaining, Tenpenny joined the Nicholls State team during preseason, with the hopes he could make his debut in 2016.
4. Altee Was a Top Recruit From Arkansas
The praise for Tenpenny started in 2012, when he was one of the best high school running backs in Arkansas. Coming out of North Little Rock high school, Tenpenny was praised for his speed (4.46 40) and vision. After missing his entire junior season with a knee injury, Tenpenny bounced back and had a strong senior year.
Arkansas pushed hard for Tenpenny, but his heart was almost always set on Alabama. He took two visits, one to Tuscaloosa and one to Fayetteville. Arkansas failed to sway him, and Tenpenny committed to the Tide in January of 2012.
5. Tenpenny Appeared in 26 Games For Alabama
Despite his troubles, Tenpenny was a solidly producer when he played for the Crimson Tide. In his two seasons, Tenpenny touched the ball a total of 48 times in 10 games. For comparison: Derrick Henry, who was in the same recruiting class as Tenpenny, carried the ball 172 times in 2014 alone.
We’ll always wonder what would’ve happened if Tenpenny stayed at home and attended Arkansas. Alabama was loaded at running back when Tenpenny committed, and Altee just couldn’t get above other backs like Henry or Kenyan Drake. Decisions aside, it’s a sad day in college football, as it loses a young talent far too soon. Tenpenny was just 20 years old.