Even though spring practice is barely a week old, it’s already been an eventful spring off the field for the Georgia football team.
Three Bulldogs have been arrested for off-field incidents since the end of the 2018 season. In addition to that trio, receiver Tyler Simmons was charged in connection with an incident that occurred on the morning of March 24.
The first arrest took place on Feb. 28. Defensive back Latavious Brini was charged with misdemeanor simply battery for slapping a man in an incident on Feb. 23.
On March 20, linebacker Jaden Hunter was arrested on charges of driving with a suspended license and parking where prohibited. He left his car unattended in front of ECV Access Road, and when the police found it, they asked for Hunter’s information upon his return and discovered his license was suspended.
In the most recent run-in with the law, freshman defensive back Tyrique Stevenson was arrested for disorderly conduct after being involved in a fight at Cloud Bar in downtown Athens on the morning of March 24.
Simmons, who was also charged in the incident, was not initially arrested, but was charged with disorderly conduct after being transported to the hospital. The two were accused of fighting with bar staff.
“There’s a standard of behavior that’s expected of student-athletes at the University of Georgia, and that’s not indicative of the behavior we want at the University of Georgia,” head coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday.
Disciplinary measures for both players will be handled internally.
Smart said he’s not concerned by the lack of leadership shown by the senior Simmons, but rather with the choices made by both players to get in that situation to begin with.
The head coach knows his players like to go and hang out downtown, but that also comes with the expectation they will act properly and “be law-abiding citizens.”
“For the most part our guys do that,” Smart said. “But when they don’t, they’re going to be punished. We’re going to try to correct it, and we’re going to do it through educational ways.”
Smart is the leader of the program, but he’s also not going out and partying with his players. At a point, it falls on the elder Bulldogs to set an example, a responsibility senior defensive lineman David Marshall said he recognizes.
“I’m a big guy, big-time player, so I’ve got to be more of a leader,” Marshall said. “I’m a senior now in my last year, so I’m going to step up and be a leader as [often] as I can.”
The incident that occurred at the Cloud Bar is nearly resolved with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Smart said, and he doesn’t believe anyone else from the team was involved. But this incident, as well as the ones involving Brini and Hunter, serve as a reminder to the team that there are behavioral expectations to be met.
“Got to find a way to make better choices and decisions, especially as young men if they’re going to represent this university,” Smart said. “Those things will be handled, and they’ll be handled the right way.”