Tight end Orson Charles announced on Wednesday that he would be leaving Georgia early for the NFL.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs and their hopes of a repeat divisional crown, Charles is the only underclassmen making the early leap.
At a press conference Friday, Mark Richt and several draft-eligible underclassmen — safety Bacarri Rambo, cornerbacks Branden Smith and Sanders Commings, running back Carlton Thomas and linebacker Cornelius Washington among them — announced that the players will be returning for another season in Athens. Suffice to say, Richt was very pleased with the development.
“Today is great day for Georgia,” Richt said. “We have a lot of good news today. Quite a few guys submitted papers for the draft to see if it was time to make the decision to fulfill their dream of playing in the NFL. These men decided to stay at Georgia. This group of players has tremendous leadership and talent and has played some tremendous football in the Southeastern Conference. I am thrilled that they have made this decision.”
Rambo, Smith, Commings and Washington were or will be starters, while Thomas finished second in rushing. Additionally, All-American LB Jarvis Jones, who’s a sophomore football-wise but would’ve been eligible for early entry into the NFL, announced previously that he would return for another year.
That means 10 of the 11 defensive starters listed on UGA’s pre-SEC championship game depth chart will return, as will second-team All-SEC quarterback Aaron Murray and leading rusher Isaiah Crowell.
Add it all up and UGA could very well find itself inside the preseason Top 10 and the front-runner for a second straight SEC East title. According to the juniors, that’s exactly why they returned.
“Every man in this room came to Georgia with dreams and goals of winning championships,” Commings said. “That is the reason that I decided to stay here at Georgia. With the leadership in this room we realized that the opportunity of achieving those dreams are great and I am excited to be able to be a part of it.”
This might surprise you, but Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson looked up to Mike Vick when he was growing up, and his playing style has been modeled after The Mike Vick Experience. Now, Jackson even has Vick himself singing his praises. But Jackson knew from an early age he was capable of doing Vick things, and he left his youth football opponents in the dust as a result.
“I don’t feel sorry about it at all,” Jackson joked in a radio interview with Dan Patrick, referring to using his skill to his advantage so often.
Jackson was a guest on The Dan Patrick Show on Monday. During his interview segment, Patrick asked Jackson about his favorite moments from the 2015 season so far and whether he’s ever been to New York. Jackson said his trip to Syracuse was his first time in New York, to which Patrick joked he was no longer welcome back to Syracuse after what he did to them this season.
Jackson, the Heisman Trophy favorite, will be making another trip to New York in December.
Tennessee will be witout running back Alvin Kamara this weekend when they take on South Carolina in SEC East play. The details of the injury have not been disclosed by Vols head coach Butch Jones or the program.
“As of right now, he does not need surgery and we’re anticipating him being back here in the next week or two,” Jones said on Monday. Given that, it sounds like this is not a major injury for Kamara, and if Jones thinks there is a chance Kamara will be back in the next couple of weeks that should be encouraging.
The schedule also allows Tennessee to move on without Kamara without fearing too much about the result of the game. The Vols do have to go on the road to play the Gamecocks, so you never know exactly what will happen. But next week, Tennessee plays host to Tennessee Tech and the week after that they play the Kentucky Wildcats (in what is suddenly, potentially an important game in the SEC East race).
Kamara is Tennessee’s second-leading rusher this season behind Jalen Hurd with 313 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
After having a bit of a cloud of uncertainty floating above them the past few days, Georgia linebackers Natrez Patrick and Roquan Smith will not face any discipline from the university and football program. Georgia announced that decision on Monday, saying the legal manner has been resolved from an on-campus dorm search by campus police.
“After receiving an incident report last week, we determined that neither Roquan Smith nor Natrez Patrick had violated any Athletic Association rules that would require suspension,”Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said in a released statement. “This included drug testing, which was negative for both student-athletes.”
Campus police were called to Patrick’s dorm room on October 15 to investigate a potential marijuana smell. No substances were discovered and no arrests were made.
Not losing Patrick and Smith is good news for the Bulldogs, as the two are the leading tacklers on Georgia’s defense, with 42 and 39 tackles, respectively. Each player released a brief statement in addition to McGarity’s statement.
“Since November 2015, I have dedicated myself to moving forward,” Patrick said in a released statement. “I’m blessed to have done that despite hurdles I’ve had to clear. This incident was simply another hurdle and I was confident I would successfully clear it. I’ll continue to move forward and I’m anxious to play on Saturday.”
“As a student at the University of Georgia and a member of the football team, I take this opportunity very seriously,” Smith said in his statement. “I have followed the rules of the Athletic Association and I am happy this situation has been rightfully resolved. I look forward to representing my school and my team on Saturday in Jacksonville.”
Northwestern cornerback Matt Harris is retiring from football after a series of concussions have put his health at risk.
“This is an incredibly difficult decision to reach, but it is the right one for me and for my future,” Harris said in a released statement. “There are few things I love more than playing the game of football and the game has provided me with so many opportunities, including the chance to attend this University. It has been a blessing to be a part of this community and learn so many lessons. Northwestern has given me so much, I look forward to taking full advantage of my chance to give back to the world around me in the future.”
Harris, a team captain in 2016, earned All-Big Ten honors in 2015 and has been named a two-time Academic All-Big Ten player during his time at Northwestern. Harris will retire having notched 161 tackles, six interceptions and three forced fumbles on the football field.
Harris is another name added to the growing list of football players making the decision to retire at such a young age. As time goes by, we learn more and more about the possible long-term effects of head injuries seen in sports, particularly in football. As a result, we are seeing players more frequently decide to step away from the sport in order to preserve their long-term health in the years to come. It is an unfortunate reality of the sport of football today, and one that continues to be addressed at all levels.