published Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

McGarity gives Georgia players clean slate

Georgia coach Mark Richt watches his players during NCAA college football practice on Aug. 1, 2014, in Athens, Ga.
Georgia coach Mark Richt watches his players during NCAA college football practice on Aug. 1, 2014, in Athens, Ga.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia's offseason troubles occurred right up to the start of preseason camp.

Bulldogs football coach Mark Richt did not field many questions regarding player behavior when he took the podium July 17 at Southeastern Conference media days. Since then, however, defensive lineman Jon Taylor was charged with felony assault and linebacker Davin Bellamy with driving under the influence.

Taylor has been dismissed from the program, and Bellamy will miss the first two games against Clemson and South Carolina.

"The guys who misbehaved have been the problem, and that's why we discipline them," Richt said Friday. "The rest of the guys don't. Some are still here and some aren't. It's part of the consequences of not doing what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it, but the majority of our guys are doing a great job, and we're proud of them."

Georgia had seven player arrests this offseason, with every incident making headlines regionally if not nationally. Richt said he can't worry about the attention his program's discipline issues receive, adding that he and his staff will continue to "hold true to what we believe is right."

Before Richt addressed the media, Bulldogs athletic director Greg McGarity went on Atlanta's 680 The Fan and was asked about the offseason.

"The perception bothers me greatly and bothers us greatly," McGarity said. "To hear ESPN talking about it -- the only way to change that is to stay out of trouble."

McGarity addressed the team Thursday and told players that a clean slate started Friday and for them to have the cleanest year possible.

"It's always a disappointment," senior cornerback Damian Swann said of the arrests, "but at the same time, those guys are my brothers. If nobody else is going to support them, then we're going to support them. We're here with them every day and love them to death. Guys make mistakes, and everything we do is under the spotlight.

"How many regular students do you hear about getting DUIs? Or just being arrested? We don't know any. We might see a guy get arrested when we're out, but we don't see it on the news or on ESPN. It's the spotlight we're put in, and we have to deal with it."

Taking a break

Fifth-year senior quarterback Hutson Mason abandoned social media more than a week ago to help his concentration for the season.

"I've got all these great fans tweeting me on how to do things," Mason said. "I knew I was going to get off of it before camp."

So how has the hiatus been for Mason, who has more than 23,000 followers on Twitter?

"I miss it when I have free time," he said, "like when you're on the toilet."

Odds and ends

Redshirt freshman tailback A.J. Turman underwent toe surgery after spring practice and is in the final stages of wearing a protective boot. ... Freshman offensive lineman Jake Edwards tore his ACL this summer and will redshirt this season. ... Richt on freshman tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel: "These guys will be getting a lot of reps. It always comes down to learning what to do. I don't think there's going to be a problem when we get them to the mesh point and hand the ball off and see them run." ... The Bulldogs will practice in shorts and helmets again today and are not allowed to be in full pads until Tuesday.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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