Georgia starting cornerback Branden Smith won’t be suspended after all.
Coach Mark Richt said that the senior won’t have to sit out the season opener against Buffalo on Sept 1. as had been widely expected.
Smith was arrested during a traffic stop on a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge on March 11 in Alabama en route to a spring break trip to Panama City, Fla. Smith said today that he returned “right away” from Alabama and tested negative for marijuana in a university-administered test and also tested negative in a court-administered test in Henry County (Ala.).
“After just gathering all the information, determining what happened, we’ve got peace that we’re doing the right thing,” Richt said after practice this morning.
Smith entered into a pre-trial diversion program in Alabama, which he said he has completed.
“I apologize to the university and my family for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Smith said.
Asked if he was surprised he would not be suspended any games knowing that a violation of the Georgia Athletic Association drug policy can bring a suspension of 10 percent of the season, Smith said, “I’m just going with the flow. Whatever happened happened.”
Smith said he found out “recently” he wouldn’t be suspended.
Still yet to be revealed by Georgia is the status of safety Bacarri Rambo and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, who both are also facing possible suspensions.
“I have no idea,” Smith said.
Ogletree was requested by media members for interviews Saturday, but he once again was not made available.
Cornerback Sanders Commings and outside linebacker Chase Vasser are suspended for two games following off-season arrests.
Having the speedy Smith for the first game is a boost for Georgia’s defense and maybe its offense.
The Atlanta native started seven games last season, making two interceptions and 24 tackles and also rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also returns punts and kickoffs.
Smith was driving on Highway 431 in Abbeville, Ala., about 25 miles north of Dothan when he was pulled over on a routine traffic stop for following too closely and having no tag light. A passenger in the car was also charged with possession of marijuana. A “baseball size package of marijuana” was found in the car, according to police.
“There’s really nothing to explain,” Smith said. “It happened. I tested clean. I don’t do drugs. I’m just moving on.”
Smith’s case could be a sign that Georgia basketball player Donte’ Williams also won’t be suspended early this season. He was also arrested in a separate incident for possession of marijuana, but tested negative also and he said his legal case was dropped.
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