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Cal Football Player Run Over by Car

July 01, 2005|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

BERKELEY — A football player from Orange County is recuperating from serious injuries he sustained after being struck near the University of California campus by a car filled with men who had been taunting a female friend.

Mike Tepper, a 19-year-old offensive lineman from Cypress, was walking with former Cal volleyball player Camille Leffall of Upland on Saturday night when the men began leering at and harassing the woman, and eventually cut the pair off with their car, police said.

When the men refused to leave Leffall alone, the 6-foot-6, 312-pound Tepper jumped between her and the car. He was allegedly run over twice, breaking his leg.

"My season's toast," Tepper said Wednesday as he recuperated from surgery to repair a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments. He had nine screws and one plate put in his leg and can't walk on it for eight weeks.

"They are expecting a 100% recovery, but it just stinks that I'm losing something that I love -- a season of football."

Tepper, who redshirted last year and was listed as a second-string tackle after spring practice, anchored a line that helped Garden Grove Pacifica reach the Southern Section Division IX championship game his junior season and the quarterfinals his senior season. He was an All-Orange County selection by The Times and an all-state selection for medium-sized schools by CalHi Sports.

Cal Coach Jeff Tedford said he was "proud of the courage Mike showed Saturday night. We are looking forward to him returning to the team. He is a quality young man, and we expect him to make solid contributions for us."

Police have arrested Johnny Ray Smith, 33, of Berkeley, and Calvin Joe Kelley, 29, of Oakland, for violating terms of their probation or parole, authorities said.

Officers also arrested a third man, but prosecutors declined to file charges against him because of scant evidence.

Police are investigating the incident as an assault with a deadly weapon.

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