(Note: Check out my feature story in today's Telegraph on Mike Bobo's hope that Georgia's O line will go from good to dominant.)
Dismissed Georgia linebacker Montez Robinson will spend a few more days in jail after a Tuesday bond hearing, but he has already received visits and support from his former coaches.
Head coach Mark Richt said he visited Robinson in the Athens Clarke County Jail and said the linebacker was struggling with the situation.
“He’s just hurting. He’s suffering right now,” Richt said. “But we’re helping him understand that he can still have a bright future if from this point forward he does what he’s supposed to do, what he needs to do.”
Robinson’s arrest was his third in the past six months – all involving domestic disputes with a female student at Georgia – and he was already serving a two-game suspension set to begin with the Bulldogs’ opener in September.
The most recent arrest, however, was the final straw with the university, and it also violated the terms of probation following his previous arrests. The latter means Robinson will spend at least a few more days in jail, according to the Athens Banner-Herald, as a judge considers how to handle punishment for the probation violation.
Tuesday, Athens-Clarke Chief Magistrate Judge Patricia Barron set Robinson’s bail on the latest charge at $10,000.
“There’s some things I was expecting (from Robinson), there’s some things the Association was expecting, there’s some things the university was expecting, and the law for that matter,” Richt said. “And he wasn’t able to live up to that. That’s why he is where he is now.”
Defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who helped recruit Robinson out of Avon, Ind., also visited his former player in jail and imparted some positive words. But the optimistic slant on things was hardly enough to overcome Garner’s disappointment in Robinson’s inability to stay out of trouble. Robinson had spent the majority of his life in group homes and foster care, and Garner said this latest transgression was a blow to both the player and his family.
“I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to save him,” Garner said. “Me knowing personally where this kid came from, his background, how important it was for him to make it – not just for him, but for all those siblings – to see him go off and have a chance to go off and change the course of what they’ve known their whole lives – it’s disappointing.”
Despite the incidents, Robinson’s teammates remained in his corner.
“Montez is a good guy,” fellow linebacker Reuben Faloughi said. “Situations happen like that all the time, and we’re all praying for him. I think all is going to be all right with Montez. He’s going to be a good player somewhere, and we’re just all keeping him in our prayers.”
More from Garner on his message to Robinson: "I told him I wanted him to stay positive and I wanted him to know that this is a hurdle he’s got to clear, but he can still be positive, he can still achieve his goals, his dreams, and that’s still out there. He’s got to deal with this, he’s got to move forward, and he’s got to learn from it.”
And see all of Richt's comments on the situation HERE.
BETTING ON GAMBLE
With Robinson gone, the on-field repercussions were immediate for the Bulldogs.
Senior Darryl Gamble moved from inside to outside linebacker Tuesday, helping to add some depth to the position that was down to just three scholarship players after Robinson’s dismissal.
As it turned out, however, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said the move had been planned even before Robinson’s dismissal.
“This was in the works,” Grantham said. “It’s just the way it’s kind of unfolded, but we were actually going to move Darryl to outside backer this week so now he can play outside and inside for us. With the situation that just came up, it’s obviously a natural fit now.”
Grantham said Gamble looked sharp during his first day of practice at the new position, and Richt said it was a move the senior seemed happy with.
“I saw Darryl during practice and asked him how he liked it,” Richt said. “He had a big smile on his face. I think he really liked it. I think that was a good change for him.”
During spring practice last season, Gamble played at outside linebacker and rush end after a series of injuries left Georgia’s defensive ends depleted. That gave him a leg up in this transition, and Richt said he thinks there’s a good chance the move will be permanent.
Even with Gamble’s move, however, Richt admits the Bulldogs will be particularly thin at outside linebacker moving forward. That means several of the incoming freshmen scheduled to arrive in June are likely to play immediately, and Richt is already making the sales pitch for future linebackers to move Georgia up their list of potential college choices.
“If you’re a recruit, and you want to play outside linebacker in a hurry, sign up,” Richt said. “We need help.”
A few more quotes on Gamble's move:
Grantham on the timetable for Gamble at Sam and Reuben Faloughi playing Will…
“We’ll be like that for this week, and once we get through this week, we’ll kind of re-evaluate it and see where guys need to be in the fall.”
Grantham on Gamble's strengths at OLB...
“He’s strong at the point. He does have some stoutness. He understands the coverage aspect pretty good because, being the Mike, he understands the inside aspect of it pretty good, where as the Sam is the outside half. So he has a feel for where guys need to be, he understands the terminology and the call, and that transition for him was pretty easy. I thought he did a good job today, I thought he made some plays. I thought it was a good first day.”
Richt on the impetus of the Gamble move...
“I mentioned to Coach Grantham and the defensive staff that I really believed Darryl could do it. He can play Mike, he can play Sam, so I think all spring long, Coach Grantham had the intention of moving him. But if he didn’t have that plan, that probably would have had to be the plan by necessity because of Montez’s situation.”
Richt on the incoming freshmen playing at OLB...
“Somebody’s got to play, so sometimes, ready or not, you play. One of them’s going to be most ready. Another will be next most ready. That’s just how we’re going to peck ‘em.”
KING STILL SITTING OUT
Tailback Caleb King missed his third straight practice Tuesday with a knee injury, and Richt said his prospects of playing in Saturday’s spring game were still up in the air.
“If we thought it felt good enough to go, he’d go, and it just doesn’t feel good enough yet,” Richt said. “He’s not able to go full speed, cut full speed. You don’t want to put him out there wounded. But we’re still hopeful he’ll be able to play in the spring game.”
Tailback Dontavius Jackson returned to work after missing several practices, while Washaun Ealey was “closer to 100 percent” Tuesday after experiencing some knee soreness during last week’s scrimmage.
Wide receiver Marlon Brown practiced in a green non-contact jersey Tuesday, and fellow receiver Israel Troupe was sidelined with a concussion that Richt said was likely to keep him out of the spring game.
(*Note: I mentioned Troupe wearing sunglasses in my practice notes yesterday. Obviously, that was due to his concussion symptoms... so no need to lock him in a closet, Coach Leach.)
Last Saturday's scrimmage was an overall win for the offense, but by Tuesday, the defensive side had enough to feel good about that it couldn't be called a complete loss.
Mark Richt on the overall performance…
“Offense really had a pretty good day. Defense didn’t have as much success as they’d had during the mid-week, although they made some big plays at the tail end of some drives that were really impressive. The defense won the short-yardage drill at the end of practice.”
Todd Grantham on his thoughts on the D's performance…
“Everybody was pretty much on the same page coming in, so he was pretty much right with everybody. He’s picked up on the speed a little more, he’s been in the film room, knows what to expect from receivers routes. He’s pretty much the same as everybody else in doing the things everybody expects him to do.”
Brandon Boykin on how he felt the D played...
“There was good plays, and I think there were plays we need to improve upon. We’ve got to work to be consistent. I think there has been some progress, and I’m pleased with their effort. I’m pleased with the way things go, but at the same time, we’re not where we want to be as a football team. So right now, guys need to make plays for us, and then we’ll feel better.”
-- Richt said that he's not trying to deliberately conceal the name of the one player involved in the taxi situation, but he said he didn't want to release any information that might inadvertently impede the ongoing police investigation.
Still, Richt didn't avoid comment on the player. "The bottom line was the only thing he did was to try to make a bad situation better. He didn't do anything that was -- when you talk about what happened in the cab, he did nothing but what I would hope our guys would do, try to diffuse the situation."
-- Richt on Tuesday's practice: "Today was about what I thought it would be. It was one of our longer practices, it was by far the hottest practice. I knew it was going to be a grind, I knew it was going to be tough physically and mentally to push through, and I thought they did a pretty good job considering all those things. It was not the most crisp of all the practices, but considering the heat, I think they did pretty good. They pushed, and I think when we watch the film, we'll probably like it more than when we observed it."
-- Richt on Vance Cuff: "He's playing with the most confidence by far since he's been at Georgia. … He's really taken well to Coach Lakatos' style and he's really done a lot of great things. I think he's played the best of the corners this spring."
(*Note: Marc Weiszer has more details on Cuff's emergence.)
-- Two more practices remain before G-Day, with Thursday's practice in shells and Friday's practice -- which is closed to media completely without post-practice interviews -- in shorts.