Pair involved in shooting can play for LSU in Fiesta Bowl, has team's support

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- The two LSU players involved in an attempted armed robbery that left one man dead are available to play in the Fiesta Bowl, coach Ed Orgeron said Thursday.

Sophomore running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and freshman linebacker Jared Small both made the trip to Arizona just days after their attempt to sell an electronic item to a man turned into an attempted armed robbery Saturday. The man pulled a gun on the players and demanded their items when one of the players pulled out a gun and shot the man, who died at the scene.

Baton Rouge police on Sunday said the players acted in self-defense. The shooting, however, remains under investigation, a police spokesperson said.

"Let me address this situation," Orgeron said after the team landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Thursday night. "It's a legal matter that's been taken care of. Clyde and Jared are two of the best young men on our football team. We believe in Clyde and Jared, and we're supporting them.

"Clyde and Jared have received counseling. They've practiced. They seem to be OK. As of right now, they are cleared to play in the game and they will play the game."

Whereas Edwards-Helaire and Small are available for the Tigers for their Fiesta Bowl matchup against No. 8 UCF on Tuesday, defensive back Kelvin Joseph is among three players who have been suspended for the game.

Joseph and offensive lineman Dare Rosenthal had violated team rules, Orgeron said, and linebacker Travez Moore didn't make the trip due to "personal issues."

The loss of Joseph is another hit to the LSU defensive backfield, with starting corners Greedy Williams (declared for the NFL draft and sitting out) and Kristian Fulton (ankle surgery) already unavailable.

Teammates, meanwhile, expressed their fondness for Edwards-Helaire and Small on Friday.

"I love Clyde, and he's a great guy and one of the best guys I've ever been around," LSU quarterback Joe Burrow said. "Obviously, it was tough being in that situation. I don't really know all the details because it's an ongoing investigation. What I will say is Clyde is one of the best guys I've ever been around. Love playing with him."

Edwards-Helaire is LSU's second-leading rusher this season, with 626 yards and 7 touchdowns on 136 carries. He and Small are both graduates of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge.

Senior guard Garrett Brumfield called Edwards-Helaire and Small "high-character guys" and said the team "only hopes the best for them."

Brumfield, however, also struggled to find the right words about the incident.

"Of course, it was a tragedy," Brumfield said. "It was a tragic event. Any time there is a loss of life, no matter what the situation may be, that's not good. Families were affected. It's a sensitive situation, of course. We just ... I don't want to say [got out of it] unscathed, but it was a tragedy and it's a sensitive situation."