Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo will appeal a four-game suspension for testing positive on an Athletic Association drug test after the All-American ate brownies he did not know were laced with marijuana, according to his high school coach.
If the suspension holds, Rambo, who considered turning pro after his junior season, could attempt to enter the NFL supplemental draft, according to Alan Ingram, who coached Rambo at Seminole County High School.
Rambo ingested the marijuana unknowingly during a spring break trip two weeks ago with friends to Panama City, Fla., according to Ingram.
“Some kids had them that were staying with him and he said he got high,” Ingram said Thursday. “He thought the things had marijuana in them. He sat there a couple of hours and didn’t know what to do. He said he if he turned himself in he’d get a four-game suspension for a second offense.”
Rambo tested positive on a random test when he returned from spring break, Ingram said, his second violation of Georgia’s drug policy, which brings a suspension of 30 percent of the season.
Starting inside linebacker Alec Ogeltree is also facing a suspension of at least two games, according to Dawgpost.com. Ogletree was suspended for the 2010 opener after being arrested for taking a motorcyle helmet from a scooter of a track athlete.
Coach Mark Richt wasn’t originally scheduled to speak to reporters Thursday after spring practice since high school coaches were in town for a two-day clinic that features former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, but Georgia changed up its interview schedule to make Richt available given the news of the day.
Two TV stations from Atlanta sent crews, but Richt didn’t offer much detail.
“I can’t confirm anything,” Richt said. “I’m just going to be waiting for us to go through our process. When there’s something to report, I’ll report it to everybody.”
That “process” could be appeals that Rambo — and possibly others — will make. There is speculation that other players could be facing new suspensions.
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity has declined comment.
The news is the latest troubling development for a Georgia team already scrambling on defense due to off-field issues, leaving safety Shawn Williams as the only starter who could be available to start the season opener Sept. 1 against Buffalo. Georgia is expected to be a top-10 team this season.
Cornerback Sanders Commings has already been suspended two games after being arrested in January. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of simple battery and disorderly conduct last week.
Cornerback Branden Smith is also facing a possible suspension of at least one game after being charged with possession of marijuana during spring break in Alabama. He has an April 24 court date.
Three players — including two cornerbacks — were dismissed from the team in February after a theft in a campus dorm room.
Rambo’s suspension would mean the player who tied for second in the nation in interceptions would be forced to miss games against Buffalo, Missouri, Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt. His eligibility for the supplemental draft, if he went that route, would be determined by the NFL, which makes decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Rambo was suspended for the season opener last year against Boise State for violating Georgia’s drug policy. Ingram said the violation came on a trip home when he was stopped for speeding near Macon and one of his passengers had a marijuana joint in her purse. Rambo wasn’t charged, but informed Richt about the incident and was suspended a game.
“He said he was tested five or six times this past year and came back clean,” Ingram said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m not stupid. I came back to the University of Georgia to be an All-American two years in a row. I could have went in the NFL.’”
Ingram, who said he speaks to Rambo a couple of times a week, portrayed Rambo as a two-time victim of “crazy” circumstance.
“Ain’t nobody would believe it, but I believe in the kid,” he said. “I’ve got kids that go to other schools that say he doesn’t smoke.”
Rambo’s latest suspension leaves an already depleted secondary even thinner.
“I know a lot of my teammates are depending on me,” Rambo said on March 1. “I’m playing a big role — leadership. I’m a senior. I came back with the mindset that I was going to give my all more than I ever did. It’s my last year. I want to go out on top.”