UGA: Spring break puts hold on Bulldogs practicesBy Marc Weiszer
Morris News Service
ATHENS, GA. – Spring break beckons for Georgia's football players.
The hope this time around is that some won't get into any off-field trouble during the time away.
The Bulldogs won't return to the field again until March 19, and this time players and coaches don't want to make any news in the next 11 days.
"Coach already warned us and we had a couple of leaders tell us be careful and be responsible," inside linebacker Ramik Wilson said this week.
Georgia dealt with distractions last year brought about by a spring break in which safety Bacarri Rambo and cornerback Branden Smith got in trouble in separate marijuana-related incidents.
Rambo had his second violation of Georgia's drug testing policy (a four-game suspension). His high school coach said Rambo unknowingly ate brownies laced with marijuana during a spring break trip to Panama City, Fla.
Smith was arrested for possession of marijuana during a traffic stop in Alabama en route to Panama City, but was not suspended after he completed a pre-trial diversion program and said he tested negative for marijuana in university-administered and court-ordered tests.
Former Georgia and NFL offensive lineman Steve Herndon spoke to the team before Thursday's practice about making good choices, coach Mark Richt said.
Herndon left the NFL after a battle with drug addiction and owns the recovery residence Safety Net in Smyrna, according to the official website of the Denver Broncos alumni association.
Richt, speaking before Thursday's practice, said each position coach "would say his piece. I'll say my piece after practice or I'll continue it from this meeting we had earlier today."
With Georgia opening the season against a rugged schedule that includes Clemson and South Carolina, suspensions this year could be especially costly.
"The biggest message we're telling our guys is, 'Hey, don't do anything stupid, don't hurt the team or hurt your chances to play in two awesome games," quarterback Aaron Murray said.
Spring break also brought trouble in 2010 when quarterback Zach Mettenberger was arrested at a bar near Valdosta on five misdemeanor charges and was later dismissed from the team after pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.
Not everyone is hitting the beach with buddies.
Murray is spending the week in Norman, Okla., working with quarterback guru George Whitfield.
Wilson is going home to "chill" with his mother and nieces and nephews at home in Tampa.
"Aaron Murray and Artie Lynch – those guys said do the right thing, and if you have any trouble, walk away from trouble and call a teammate," Wilson said. "A teammate will come get you and get you out of there. Just be smart."
• Recruiting proposals
Two NCAA recruiting proposals that drew opposition, including from Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity, could be suspended.
The NCAA announced Thursday on its website that the governing body's rules working group has recommended that the board of directors modify two deregulation proposals adopted in January that schools were concerned would create "a recruiting arms race."
The rules in question would have:
– eliminated the definition of recruiting coordinator functions that would be performed by the head coach or an assistant coach. "The concept is being considered as the membership ponders its approach to non-coaching personnel," according to the NCAA.
– eliminated restrictions on printed materials sent to prospects. The working group is seeking "a broader discussion of the rule." Richt was asked if the non-coaching personnel rule was squashed would keep him from adding more non-coaching staff members.
"We've got to do what we think is in the best interest of Georgia within reason," Richt said. "We want to make sure that everybody has got a job to do. If you hire a lot of people and then the legislation changes, then all of a sudden you've got people hanging around the office but you're not sure what to do with them, I don't know how good that is. I think Georgia's going to do what we need to do to compete at this level."
The board will review the recommendations when it meets on May 2.
• Richt "taking care" of TE
Sophomore tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith will be disciplined internally following his arrest last month for filing a false police report, Richt said, indicating that a game suspension was unlikely.
"I'm taking care of him," Richt said. "He's already been in the process of handling some of it."
University police said Flournoy-Smith reported three textbooks valued at $225 were stolen when he actually resold them to a local buyback store.
"I think he's got a bright future if he can make good choices in life and work hard," Richt said.
• Quick hits
Freshmen safeties Tray Matthews of Newnan and Quincy Mauger are "getting a bunch of reps" already in practice," Richt said. That's in 11-on-11, pass skeleton and team run drills. "They are right in the heart of what we're doing," Richt said. ... Offensive tackle John Theus is still expected back before spring practices end, according to Richt. Theus had surgery in January for a broken bone in his right foot. ... Former walk-on tailback Brandon Harton has been sidelined by a sprained MCL in his left knee, according to the first official Georgia injury report of the spring. Keith Marshall (strained right hamstring) and Harton are expected back after spring break.