ATHENS — Branden Smith — expected to contribute to Georgia’s football team on defense, offense and special teams — is not currently practicing with the Bulldogs because he is “working through some academic issues,” coach Mark Richt said Monday.
Richt said the situation will be resolved “soon –- by the end of the week.”
Asked if he expects Smith back with the team, Richt would only repeat: “Branden is working through some academic issues right now.” Richt wouldn’t say what the “academic issues” are.
Smith, a sophomore from Atlanta, was not on the field for either of Monday’s two practices. He participated in Georgia’s first few practices of preseason camp last week but is believed to have missed practices on Friday and Saturday.
He would be a big loss for the Bulldogs.
As a freshman last season, he played in 13 games, seeing action in all facets of the game.
On special teams, he returned 16 kickoffs for 279 yards, a 17.4-yard average. On offense, he lined up occasionally in various spots — running back, quarterback and wide receiver — and rushed for 209 yards on 17 carries, including touchdown runs of 61 yards against South Carolina and 52 yards against Tennessee Tech. And on defense, his primary role, he showed promise at cornerback.
He entered preseason camp in close competition with senior Vance Cuff for a starting spot at one corner.
Smith is the only player facing academic issues, Richt said.
Another AD applicant
Chris Welton, a sports marketing executive who was a starting defensive back on Georgia’s 1980 national championship team, confirmed that he has added his name to the list of applicants for UGA’s athletic-director position.
Welton’s application was submitted after the 49 that were revealed last week in response to an open-records request by the AJC.
Welton, who has finance and law degrees from UGA, was an associate at Atlanta law firm King & Spalding before an executive position with the Atlanta Olympics led to a career in sports marketing. Welton created a company that became the marketing agency for the International Olympic Committee, then sold that company to the IOC in 2004. He is now president of Helios Partners, an Atlanta-based sports marketing firm.
Welton wrote in his application letter that UGA “has only grown in stature and quality” since his days as a student there.
“Nonetheless, the University faces a number of issues relating to athletics requiring attention and skilled management,” Welton wrote. “While the Athletic Association has been extremely successful from a financial perspective, legitimate concerns exist regarding the performance of certain teams, academic performance of athletes and off-field behavior of athletes in particular.”
Linebacker Richard Samuel and safety Quintin Banks missed Monday’s football practices. Banks is “day-to-day” with a swollen knee and Samuel might be out “a week or two” with an injured leg, Richt said. He didn’t have specifics of Samuel’s injury. . . . The Bulldogs on Monday held their only two-a-day drills scheduled for this preseason. The final half hour of the afternoon session was in a heavy rain. . . . Georgia’s first scrimmage of the preseason is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.