According to College Football Talk, Georgia Bulldog running back Washaun Ealey was arrested and jailed on a hit-and-run charge last night. He was placed into the custody of Athens-Clarke County law enforcement and is being held in jail on a $3,000 bond.
Ealey was charged with hitting a parked car in a university parking deck and then leaving the scene—Ealey's license was later found to be suspended, and the vehicle he was operating did not belong to him.
University police chief Jimmy Williamson stated that the gold Chevrolet Impala that Ealey was driving was registered to his roommate.
Ealey remains in jail at this time, and the natural question for the Georgia Bulldogs is, what now?
This charge is sure to warrant some time off the field and, depending on how Athens law enforcement chooses to handle Ealey's blatant disregard for following procedure, there could be a need to make an example of this behavior.
Ealey was the team's leading rusher last season, and there were high expectations that he would be a major part of the running game this year. Georgia no longer has Dontavius Jackson—he transferred in order to gain more playing time. That means the depth chart for Georgia includes only Caleb King, Carlton Thomas, and Ken Malcome—King being the only player with on-field success.
That said, there was some indication that Caleb King was going to be the No. 1 tailback at the end of summer practice. Mark Richt stated that both running backs were doing well, but he was more impressed with King's pass-blocking ability. Ealey was lagging behind a bit in that area and, as is well known, the Bulldogs want to be sure that Aaron Murray has all the protection he needs this season.
Either way, this is not good news for Mark Richt as his team was finally gaining some positive momentum heading into the first week of the season and seemed to finally have recovered from the mishaps and disappointments that surrounded the team earlier in the summer.
More info as it becomes available.
(UPDATE 1:26pm): According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution's, Tim Tucker:
Separately, Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court Clerk Rhonda Bolton told the AJC that the court issued a failure-to-appear warrant for Ealey on Aug. 12. Ealey was charged with speeding and tag violations on May 30, she said, and failed to appear for a scheduled court date on July 12. That failure to appear triggered a suspension of Ealey’s driver’s license, Bolton said.
Ealey’s fines in the case would have been $205 for speeding and $125 for the registration violation, Bolton said.
Although jail records show the first charge against Ealey as hit-and-run of a parked vehicle, Williamson said the charge technically will be violation of the “duty-upon-strike” law. The law, Williamson said, is that “you have a responsibility when you hit another car to report it, same as if you hit a fence you have a responsibility to report it. . . . You can’t drive off.”
Williamson said officers determined that alcohol was not involved in the incident. No one was injured.
Williamson did not have details about the damage to the parked truck. He said the written police report on the incident won’t be available until Monday.(Tim Tucker, AJ-C)
(UPDATED, 8/28/10 @ 9:43 AM): Info from ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and The AP
"I'm not happy with it. It's foolish. He knew better," Richt said. "But no one thinks it's going to happen to him. He knew his license was suspended, and we knew his license was suspended. As a matter of fact, we spend a lot of hours checking on every single player to make sure their licenses are up to date and, if they're not, making them aware of that."
Richt said the length of Ealey's suspension will be determined by how he handles his punishment. He didn't practice with the team Friday, spending his time doing extra running.
"I've got some internal things for him to handle, and if he handles them the way he should and behaves between now and the next one, he'll have a pretty good chance of playing," Richt said. "But he's got to show me that he's ready to go back and not only play, but practice with the team."
Richt is confident the Bulldogs will overcome all their off-the-field problems.
"This team is very resilient and very tough mentally," the coach said. "I guarantee the guys that are out there that show up will play their tails off. There's a whole bunch of them that are doing everything right and are preparing for a tremendous opportunity."
(This article appears courtesy of The Lady Sportswriter)