Despite seven arrests for Georgia football players this offseason, coach Mark Richt and two of his senior leaders view what‚Äôs happened since January from a different perspective than outsiders who see the program as having a discipline problem.
‚ÄúThe guys that misbehave have a discipline problem and that‚Äôs why we discipline them,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúThe rest of the guys don‚Äôt. Some are still here and some aren‚Äôt. That‚Äôs just part of the consequences of not doing what you‚Äôre supposed to do when you‚Äôre supposed to do it. The great majority of our guys are doing a great job. I‚Äôm really proud of them. There‚Äôs different levels of issues, obviously, but even a good man makes a mistake sometimes. We‚Äôll take care of those things and we always have and not hide from that.‚Äù
Defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor was booted after being charged with felony aggravated assault/family violence and outside linebacker Davin Bellamy was arrested for DUI. Richt confirmed that Bellamy will be suspended the first two games under UGA athletic policy.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want people to shed a negative light on it and say it‚Äôs been terrible because of a couple of things that happened,‚Äù receiver Chris Conley said of the offseason. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve had tons of guys doing the right things.‚Äù
Conley called the offseason ‚Äúextremely productive‚Äù
Linebacker Amarlo Herrera said: ‚ÄúBesides those two incidents that happened this summer, we had a great offseason of summer workouts.‚Äù
On the eve of spring practice, four players were arrested for ‚Äúdouble-dipping‚Äù UGA-issued tuition checks.
‚ÄúWe worry about it because we wear the G. We rep the University of Georgia whenever there‚Äôs a bad light that‚Äôs shed on this football team or on the university it affect us,‚Äù Conley said. ‚ÄúThen we also realize that when someone on this team fails, we all fail. ‚Ä¶We take responsibility for it collectively.‚Äù
Athletic director Greg McGarity and UGA president Jere Morehead met with players Thursday night as is typical to start a new school year.
McGarity told the team it is starting with a clean slate as of Aug. 1 and it should aim to get through the season incident-free off the field.
Richt said that players Georgia signs usually have offers from five to 20 schools that Georgia competes with for players.
He said players get dropped as recruits for what they do on a visit or how current players see the individual.
Richt said a player that was committed to Georgia had an offer rescinded because what he posted on social media.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs definitely a vetting process that we‚Äôre very serious about,‚Äù Richt said.
Richt said Bellamy ‚Äúmade a mistake. It was stupid. He knows it. He‚Äôs remorseful, but he‚Äôs not a bad person.‚Äù
Quarterback Hutson Mason said others made a mistake by not being there for him.
‚ÄúI made a mistake because Davin couldn‚Äôt pick up the phone and say hey, ‚ÄòHutson, I need a ride,‚Äô or somebody,‚Äù Mason said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not just pointing fingers at someone.‚Äù
Moore on departures from secondary: ‚ÄòIt didn‚Äôt hurt us‚Äô
Senior safety Corey Moore isn‚Äôt fazed by the attrition since spring practice in the secondary.
Safety Tray Matthews was dismissed and cornerback Shaw Wiggins transferred to Louisville.
They combined for 14 starts last year as freshmen.
‚ÄúTo be honest we don‚Äôt know if those guys were still here if they would be getting playing time,‚Äù Moore said. ‚ÄúI felt like when those guys left, we didn‚Äôt lose anything. It wasn‚Äôt a big drop. We all know they played up under coach (Todd) Grantham. He‚Äôs a different coach than coach (Jeremy) Pruitt I can promise you that. You never know who would have started. Having those guys leaving, I felt like it didn‚Äôt hurt us, it actually helped us.‚Äù
Walk-on Aaron Davis, who ended the spring as a first-team cornerback, was working at safety on Friday.
Carter jumps out among freshmen
There were 19 scholarship newcomers practicing for the Bulldogs for the first time on Friday.
Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter may have stood out more than any, at least physically
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a big dude,‚Äù Herrera said of the 6-foot-6, 237-pound five-star recruit from Norcross. ‚ÄúI like him. He‚Äôs goofy but I like him. He‚Äôs huge.‚Äù
Said Richt: ‚ÄúWhen you see Lorenzo walk down the hall you get a little more excited than some. ‚Ä¶He‚Äôs a pretty looking athlete and very talented.‚Äù
One who didn‚Äôt practice was freshman offensive lineman Jake Edwards is out of the season after tearing an ACL in summer workouts.
Tight end Joseph Ledbetter, who enrolled this week after playing basketball at Division II Pfeiffer (N.C.) University, practiced in jersey No. 88. He‚Äôs the older brother of Alabama commitment Jonathan Ledbetter.
Mason on his social media shutdown
As promised back in June, Mason said he‚Äôs off social media now (his Twitter account is still active but he hasn‚Äôt posted the last two weeks).
So how‚Äôs that going?
‚ÄúI miss it when I have free time,‚Äù Mason said. ‚ÄúYou‚Äôre on the toilet or you‚Äôre just at the house‚Ä¶That‚Äôs what Twitter is for. When I‚Äôm busy, I don‚Äôt miss it, but when I‚Äôm sitting at home just laying on the bed, I‚Äôm like ‚ÄòDamn, I‚Äôve got to get back on there,‚Äô but I can‚Äôt get back on that.‚Äù
Mason has ditched social media to focus more without the distractions
‚ÄúI‚Äôve got all these great fans telling me and tweeting me how to do things, so‚Ä¶,‚Äù Mason said.
This and that
Georgia practiced on the newly refurbished FieldTurf surfaces Friday because the grass fields are being resodded. A thicker ‚Äúlay and play‚Äù grass is being installed and should be ready for use by early next week after the root systems in parts of the field didn‚Äôt develop as expected. ‚Ä¶Tight end Jay Rome‚Äôs ‚Äústill is a little tender,‚Äù after toe surgery this offseason,‚Äù Richt said. He practiced Friday but he may be held out of some drills. ‚Ä¶Tailback Keith Marshall won‚Äôt be limited, Richt said, other than if he gets sore as he returns from a torn ACL. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs not a drill right now that he‚Äôs excluded from,‚Äù Richt said. ‚Ä¶Tailback A.J. Turman had toe surgery and isn‚Äôt expected to be available at least early this season. ‚Ä¶‚Ä¶Among the new walk-ons are some local products added to the roster: linebacker John Huff from Oconee County and Gainesville State, linebacker Christian Payne from Prince Avenue Christian and snapper John Courson from North Oconee. He‚Äôs the son of UGA director of sports medicine Ron Courson‚Ä¶¬†Georgia practiced on the first day of August under cloudy skies with temperatures below 80. ‚ÄúEnjoying the weather,‚Äù outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. ‚ÄúIt reminds me of Washington State.‚Äù Jenkins lived there from 9 to 13 in the Seattle-Tacoma area.