The Bulldog nation waited with great anticipation to see what disciplinary measures Georgia coach Mark Richt was going to take with junior tailback Caleb King. But no one watched with more interest than former Bulldog Demetre Baker.
Baker was the first UGA player to feel the wrath of what he referred to as Richt’s “no tolerance” disciplinary policy. Baker was arrested on a DUI charge on Sept. 25 — the very week the policy was implemented — and was promptly dismissed from the team the next day.
King was arrested and jailed Monday on an outstanding warrant for an unpaid speeding ticket in Walton County. The junior running back from Norcross was handed a two-game suspension on Tuesday.
“As far as the no-tolerance rule, Caleb got just two games,” Baker said Tuesday night. “But I guess his situation was different than mine. I guess his wasn’t as bad. But that’s not my decision to make. I feel what I did was wrong and I don’t blame anybody else. Coach Richt made it clear what his policy was.”
Baker, a true freshman from Orange Park, Fla., remains in Athens and enrolled at UGA, where he will complete his fall semester classes. He said he plans to enroll at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Ala., in January. He will resume his football career there.
He said he has no hard feelings toward Georgia or Richt.
“I told Coach Richt, ‘I’m a man.’ I took my punishment like a man and I moved on,” Baker said. “I believe in God and I believe He opens doors for me. So I’m looking at this as an opportunity.”
Baker said it was with Richt’s assistance that he ended up deciding on South Alabama.
The Jaguars are in just their second year of football and have yet to lose a game. Currently they’re playing a mixed scheduled against FCS, Division II and NAIA schools. But they’ll become an FBS program (formerly known as Division I) in 2013. Baker will be a junior then.
“Coach Richt knows a bunch of the coaches on the staff there and contacted them himself,” Baker said. “He told them that I am a good person and good player and that he believes I can help them. I feel good about it.”
Baker (6-0, 200) signed with the Bulldogs as a linebacker but is going to play running back for at South Alabama. He gained 1,040 yards and scored 13 touchdowns as a senior at Orange Park High.
“They feel like that’s where I can help them the most,” Baker said.
Nevertheless, Baker said he wishes he could remain a Bulldog.
“I wish I could stay at Georgia,” he said. “I was an early commit and a strong commit. I love Georgia and planned on being here for four years. But I feel like God wanted me somewhere else.”