After wishing and hoping during the preseason for a break from practices, Georgia’s football players got what they wanted on Friday.
Smiling players streamed out of the Butts-Mehre building — some without shirts on — after learning practice was scrapped and they were headed by bus to the Ramsey Center for their annual pool trip.
Georgia coach Mark Richt posed with Georgia divers and then took a dive himself — well, a backflip — from the 10-meter platform.
“The older you get, the higher it gets,” said the 52-year-old Richt who used to go diving in his high school days in Boca Raton, Fla. “I know if I land wrong, something’s going to get hurt real bad. …Thankfully, I hit it pretty good again. That’s one more year. That’s good.”
Dozens of Georgia players — including start linebacker Jarvis Jones — followed their coach with jumps. Senior Cornelius Washington wore a life jacket for his first jump at Georgia.
The break came after 22 days of practices — including two days with two practices — with just two off days.
“We’ve been banging on each other for a couple of weeks now, and it was good to get a day where we could relax and enjoy each other and have fun,” receiver Tavarres King said.
Richt has made an annual tradition of taking his players to the pool, dating back to at least 2003, but last year’s trip came during an open week during the season.
“There might have been a better day to do it somewhere along the way,” Richt said. “There’s got to be that element of surprise and element of trying to catch them off guard, thinking of a way that you could get the emotion of it.”
The pool trip came on a day scheduled to be a physical, fundamental practice. Richt had said last week he didn’t know if the team would go this preseason.
Center David Andrews was surprised.
“I thought it was going to come during the off week, like it did last year,” Andrews said, “but coach Richt made a great decision today. We needed that, just a little morale booster right there. …It’s indescribable, the feeling, just celebrating with everyone. It makes you love football and love the team.”
Said Richt: “I think we got them pretty good, we had fun. …It’s team-building, it’s fun, it’s making memories.”