It’s spring break at the University of Georgia, meaning the Bulldogs will not have another spring practice until Tuesday, March 19.
This is a crucial time for the Bulldogs because this time last year a few players got into some hot water during their vacation and missed some significant playing time as a result.
Cornerback Branden Smith was pulled over in Alabama while traveling to Panama City Beach and was charged with possession of marijuana. He did not miss any time practice time because he was cleared of all charges.
Safety Bacarri Rambo did not get pulled over by the police, but he missed the first four games last year because he failed a drug test. Rambo admitted to eating marijuana-laced brownies during his vacation on the Gulf Coast. This was not his first offense, which is why he missed a quarter of the season.
Linebacker Alec Ogletree also failed a drug test, and he also was suspended the first four games of the season because this was the second test that he failed.
To the Bulldogs credit, they were able to weather the storm in the first four games, as they defeated Buffalo, Missouri, Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt. This year is a whole new ballgame because the Bulldogs first four opponents are Clemson, South Carolina, North Texas and LSU.
That is one reason why the Bulldogs won’t get into any kind of trouble during spring break. If they want to put themselves in a position to win the SEC and have a shot at winning the national title, they have to keep their noses clean during spring break and during the summer.
Some of the players are not going to the beaches in Florida. Quarterback Aaron Murray is in Oklahoma training for the upcoming season. Linebacker Amarlo Herrera spent the first part of his break in Athens. Linebacker Ramik Wilson went home to Tampa, Fla. to spend some time with his family.
Before their second spring practiced ended last Thursday, the coaches stressed to the players to make the right decisions when vacationing during spring break.
Head coach Mark Richt even brought in former Bulldog and NFL offensive lineman Steve Herndon to talk to the team about not getting into trouble. Herndon played for the Denver Broncos from 2000-2003 and then for the Atlanta Falcons in 2004. His career was cut short due to substance abuse.
Every player on the roster knows how important this season is. With the way the SEC Championship Game ended last year, many eyes will be on the Bulldogs and see if they can take the next step.
So far, there have not been too many off-the-field issues. The only player to have issues with the law this year is tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith, who was arrested because he falsely reported a crime when cashing his text books and claiming they were stolen.
It’s never good to see a player get arrested for that minor of an infraction, which is why Bulldog fans are hoping this incident does not start a trend just like in previous years. But the players like Murray, Wilson and Herrera are focused on one thing and that’s winning a title. If most of the players are like those three, then Richt won’t have to worry about getting phone calls from various police departments this week.