It sounded like a fascinating story: Back when he coached UCLA, Jim Mora was either such a super sleuth or so well connected that he told top running back recruit Najee Harris that he knew who killed Tupac Shakur.
The story made the rounds on social media Friday after police arrested Duane “Keffe D” Davis in connection with the 1996 murder of the rapper. An independent reporter with the X handle @_MLFootball, who has more than 100,000 followers on the platform formerly known as Twitter, wrote that Harris told a Rivals reporter about Mora’s inside information.
That reporter, Rob Cassidy, told The Times on Friday that Harris told him about it during a camp in 2016 at Fullerton College.
Only one problem with the story: Mora said it’s untrue.
In a text message to The Times on Friday, Mora called it “a complete fabrication. I doubt Najee ever said it because it never happened.”
One thing not in dispute is that Harris never became a Bruin. After starring for Antioch (Calif.) High, Harris played for Alabama from 2017-2020 before becoming a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021. He was a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie and ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons.
Mora guided the Bruins to two 10-win seasons before some backsliding resulted in his dismissal before the final game of the 2017 season. After taking Connecticut to the Myrtle Beach Bowl — the Huskies’ first bowl game appearance since 2015 — in his first season with the program in 2022, Mora’s team has opened 2023 with four consecutive losses going into a game against Utah State on Saturday.
Cassidy noted Friday that when he asked Harris if Mora told him who the killer was, Harris smiled “and said something that was a non-answer. … It was a throwaway comment in a larger conversation.”
And, it appears, a bunch of bunk.