Who’ll return punts for Dogs? A.J. Green thinks he knows

ATHENS – Georgia coaches have been evasive about who’ll return punts this season, usually listing a half dozen or so possibilities when asked. But A.J. Green thinks he knows.

And it’s not him.

Asked Friday night if he’s been returning many punts in practice, Green said: “A little bit. Not that much since Branden Smith came back. It’s probably going to be him, and I’ll be second-team. Hey, whatever. . . . I’d love to get back there.”

Smith, the sophomore speedster from Atlanta, rejoined the team Aug. 13 after leaving for eight days because of uncertainty about whether a placement-test score would prevent him from enrolling in fall-semester classes. Smith returned after being cleared academically.

Smith is looking good as a punt returner, Green said.

“He’s explosive, man,” Green said.

The punt-return job is open because of the graduation of Prince Miller, who handled the role last season.

For kickoff returns, Georgia has Brandon Boykin back. Boykin returned 38 kickoffs for 988 yards last season, including two for 100-yard touchdowns.

Smith didn’t return any punts last season, but he did return 16 kickoffs.

Georgia assistant coach Bryan McClendon said a decision hasn’t been made on who’ll return punts.  Whoever gets the gig must be adept at ball security, said McClendon, who is in charge of the punt-return unit.

“We’ve still got a bunch of guys back there trying it out,” McClendon said.  “Priority No. 1 is to make sure that Georgia’s offense takes the field [after the punt] regardless of any kind of big-play threat that we put out there.”

++++++++++

Coach Mark Richt’s suspension of Washaun Ealey for at least the opening game  likely will mean an increased workload for Carlton Thomas, who will be the Bulldogs’ No. 2 tailback behind starter Caleb King against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 4.

“I’m sorry it had to be like this,” said Thomas, referring to Ealey’s arrest and suspension. But Thomas said he welcomes “more opportunities, more of a chance to showcase what I can do and put a good light on what I can bring to the team.”

Said Richt: “I told . . . Carlton Thomas, ‘You’re going to get your opportunity. You’ll probably get more of an opportunity than you would have got. I said, ‘Wrap up the ball and pass-protect. That’s been a little bit of your nemesis. So prove you can pass-pro; prove you can hold on to the ball.”

Richt also said he told Fred Munzenmaier to “get greased up, get ready, get ready to run the ball and pass-protect and secure the ball because you’re probably going to get your chance too” at tailback.

Thomas, by the way, said Ealey apologized to his fellow running backs for getting arrested.

++++++++++

Friday brought the Bulldogs bad news on the legal front — the arrest of Ealey — but good news on the medical front.

“A lot of good news,” Richt said.

Inside linebacker Akeem Dent, who had been sidelined since undergoing toe surgery last month, participated fully in practice. “I’m sure he’ll be ready to play by the [opening] game if he doesn’t have a setback,” Richt said.

Also, two starting offensive linemen, center Ben Jones and left guard Cordy Glenn, returned to practice after being sidelined by minor knee surgery and mononucleosis, respectively.

Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs, sidelined all week with a sprained ankle, didn’t practice Friday, but Richt said he’s “very hopeful” Dobbs will practice Monday. “We think it’s pretty certain he’ll play [in the opener],” Richt said.

Two injured receivers, Rantavious Wooten (sprained knee) and Logan Gray (sprained ankle), remained sidelined. Richt said Wooten is “very close” to returning and Gray “a little further behind.” Richt doesn’t rule either out for the opener.

And please visit the AJC’s bulked-up UGA page, ajc.com/uga, for much more Bulldogs coverage.

189 comments Add your comment

football is in the air

August 28th, 2010
2:17 am

How Bout Them DAWGS!

Looking forward to a great year!

76-DAWG

August 28th, 2010
2:20 am

Last year the only guy that you didn’t close your eyes and pray on kickoffs that there wasn’t going to be a fumble was Gray. I hope that changes this year.

Sanford in a week

August 28th, 2010
2:22 am

Starting to get healthy cant wait Go DAWGS

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Stupid is as stupid does

August 28th, 2010
4:53 am

Are some of the football players at Georgia just plain stupid? Willingly breaking the law (driving with no drivers permit) … willingly … planned. Hitting a parked car? I am growing more disgusted with CMR’s ability to lead every arrest. I think that CMR should lower the boom even more and get rid of the thugs and bums. If Ealey did not care any more for the team that to selfishly and stupidly do what he did, he don’t belong on the team (I don’t care how good he is). Win at any cost with thugs and lawbreakers and stupid self-centered idiots make winning less desirable. CMR needs to bring his players under control or CMR needs to go. As a 1969 graduate of UGA, I am currently ashamed of the entire football program and their arrest blotters. Another UGA player arrested makes me angry and makes all of the Bulldog Nation look bad. Shame on CMR and the other coaches for not gaining control of the program. If this continues, I don’t care how good a coach CMR is … he will need to go.

dawgfan13

August 28th, 2010
4:59 am

Letting AJ return punts is a no brainer! I am not sure what the Georgia coaches think when they recruit these players. In college you have to put your best players in at all times. All of the major championship programs do it. You cant be afraid of injury while playing football. I have supported Mark Richt in his tenure here but I am starting to think that this team needs a fresh voice. These players continue to get in trouble, we continue to lose out on major recruits to FSU of all schools and a lot of these players are not being developed to their full potential.

Must get control of the program

August 28th, 2010
5:04 am

If CMR cannot regain control of the discipline on the Georgia program … he needs to go!

Grandpa Right

August 28th, 2010
6:16 am

What do you jackhammers want Richt to do? He cannot hold these guys hands. All he can do is apply the appropraite punishment and hope these boys grow up.

The players who engaged is real criminal activity are gone. The others are are punished appropriately.

Florida Dawg

August 28th, 2010
7:01 am

Suspending Ealey for one game is a joke.
Driving without a license, hit and run and at 3:00AM!!! He also didn’t appear in court last July!
NOW, if Ealey had hit a PERSON does “anyone” think he would have waited around to see if they were OK??????
If Ealey were NOT a starter…. he would not play another game.
I am very disappointed with the direction of this team and the total lack of character.
You are either a TEAM player or you’re not.
Remember, this guy had already had a problem with his arrest last May and then not “SHOWING” up for a court date in July!

bad brad

August 28th, 2010
7:02 am

Here come all the Richt haters. The players are 18-22 yrs old for the most part and believe it or not, they will act like they are 18-22 yrs old.

Agree with Grandpa’s post above.

17 of 20

August 28th, 2010
7:10 am

Georgia is the Michigan State of the Southeastern Conference, The team that finishes in 3rd place but is happy with 9 wins.

destin dawg

August 28th, 2010
7:24 am

Curfew …out at 3 AM ??? hit a parked car.. no big deal.. but out at 3 AM… 1 week before the season… Stupid… but most local PD’s would just issue a citation… kick him off 2 games plus 50 hours of community service… any more problems OFF the team period… even just a midnight curfew violation…. save Green for WR unless it’s an emergency …. Go Dawgs !!!

Mitch Cumstein

August 28th, 2010
7:26 am

It’s a shame more couldn’t be done to prevent these embarassments from occurring. However, fromthis point forward I hope the team instills a little discipline into itself. That approach seems to work for many other areas of life. If these seniors/leaders take the initiative and dole out their own punishment, I bet this foolishness would come to a screeching halt.

As for you 17 of 20, enjoy your time in the spotlight while it lasts you worm. do realize that UGA owns the series lead by 10 games over your tacky, transplanted yankee, gold chain wearing jortsters. Has fu ever gone undeafeated? Didn’t think so. Prepare for a little parity for years to come wormser.

destin dawg

August 28th, 2010
7:27 am

Grandpa is right … if NO drugs, weapons, alcohol, felonies… they are just college kids full of hormones.. pop him in 2nd half of SC. game??? Go Dawgs !!

Palm City Dawg

August 28th, 2010
7:31 am

If Ealey cared about his team he would not have been in that car at 3 in the morning. I cannot stand this, but I am sure Richt must be boiling as well. We need that guy and he just goes out and does what he wants. Can someone tell us what the heck he was doing? Coming back from the library? Does Alabama and Florida hide their arrests or are these guys just damn selfish idiots.

longdog

August 28th, 2010
7:40 am

Stupid you must be drunk up at four in the morning to post your drooling’s

Browndog

August 28th, 2010
7:46 am

CMR is IN control, so stop bashing the program. Would you rather have Butch Davis about now? Seems like Spurrier has his hands full in SC with problem players. Read the national news and you’ll see the same issues at almost every school. These are 18 to 22 year olds who will do dumb things.

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tdawg in Stockbridge

August 28th, 2010
8:05 am

OMG, all the arrest for under age possession of alcohol. The players are out of control or UGA police have nothing else to do. In the Dooley days, the alcohol was confiscated and the players were sent home. This stuff has always happened on college campuses and always will, nothing CMR or any other coach can do. Boys will be boys.

Vick=Dog killing Thug

August 28th, 2010
8:12 am

One game suspension and a few laps wont teach these kids anything. CMR needs to clean house. Like anyone I want the best players on the field but there is the matter of respect for the program and the school. I work with a bunch of Bama and Tech fans and they wore me out over this.

VOL DAWG TRAINER

August 28th, 2010
8:21 am

Please don’t fire St. Richt,he is my favorite SEC coach! No matter how bad it gets in Knoxville, we can always count on a boost for the Gawja Mutts. Those yearly beatdowns always help our spirit. Hit & Run / Driving on revoked / failure to appear all at 3:00 AM!!!!! See you overated chumps in a few weeks for young Dooley’s first taste of victory between the bushes. It must suck to be a bull dog!!! GO VOLS POUND THE MUTTS!!

cattle dawg

August 28th, 2010
8:25 am

You let bama fans get on your case? Tell them to look in the mirror.. As for the paul johnson fans, who cares.

PA Dawg

August 28th, 2010
8:27 am

After watching Tampa Plant on TV last night, I’m not concerned about losing Wilder to FSU. He didn’t impress me at all. David Pollack even said he wasn’t impressed either. No break away speed . Fumbled the ball! On defense, he didn’t show me anything either. fSU can have him. Clearly the best player in the field was the Blakely kid from Manatee. He ran right through Wilder a couple times and ran away from him once.

cattle dawg

August 28th, 2010
8:27 am

Hey Vol, when do yall play North Carolina?

Reality

August 28th, 2010
8:30 am

Ealey made a mistake. I bet none of you haters have ever screwed up before. You probably never got a booty call at 3 am either. He didn’t intentionally hurt anyone, he just was thinking with the wrong brain. Give the kid a break. The media makes a huge deal over this crap because they love to. It makes their ratings go up. I wish they would talk about football, and leave the small traffic violations alone. Yeah, Ealey should not have run after he hit the car. But he was probably scared and frantic and made a stupid decision. I had several friends in college that got hit and run DUI’s and now they are perfectly normal tax paying citizens with great jobs and families. It’s freakin college!! Give the kid a break. Run him til he pukes and run him some more and suspend him for the opening game. That’s fair.

Realistic Dawg Fan

August 28th, 2010
8:34 am

The AJC and Mark Bradly seem to get some perverse pleasure in making the arrests of UGA players for traffic violations or under age drinking a front page story. It is absurd. I am not condoning the arrests but each arrest, no matter how minor the infraction, is being made out as if the players are major criminals and the whole program is undisciplined, neither of which is even remotely true.

Ealey hit a parked vehicle in a parking garage, not on the street and did no damage. He has a suspended license. No alcohol, no one hurt, no damage. How is this news?

RxDawg

August 28th, 2010
8:39 am

Stupid is….head on back to the Tech blogs now.

footlong dawg

August 28th, 2010
8:41 am

Reality is right.. NOT a felony.. these are college jocks.. Techies can’t relate…never had a”Booty call “”"

rrich

August 28th, 2010
8:43 am

hey the only beat down the vols will do this year was at the the bar in Knoxville what a waste for such a great collage

NORRIS

August 28th, 2010
8:46 am

Brandon Smith will be big this year. This kid will play pro ball easy. Look for a lot of big plays on the punt return team and the kick off return team. With Boykin too. these guys can play.

RxDawg

August 28th, 2010
8:47 am

I like how Aaron White said it. None of these guys are bad to the core. I think that’s the thing we Dawg fans can really hang our hat on.

And Reality, your 8:30 post is good. I agree.

Tide roll

August 28th, 2010
8:50 am

the campus cops are a joke… in Tuscaloosa they take’em home.. no report… I know for sure ….. same at Auburn… hey they’re just being college kids unless there’s a felony…… ROLL TIDE !!!

The Ole Ball Coach

August 28th, 2010
8:53 am

List Alabama , Auburn, LSU, Georgia Tech, Florida, Miami, FSU, and Tennesse arrests over the last two years…… oh and the times each of those schools and officers turned the head…

Lefty LaRue

August 28th, 2010
8:55 am

Punt Returner will be a game time decision based on who is on the sidelines and who is in jail.

BobDog

August 28th, 2010
8:55 am

Everybody keeps asking what Ealey could have been doing out at 3:00 a.m. You must have not been around college kids in a while. They’re nocturnal.

As far as Ealey, narrow it down to two choices: Either drinking/partying or a girl. The first choice has been eliminated.

For those commenting on the choice of punt returners being wrong if A.J. isn’t chosen, you have NEVER seen him return a punt, so how could you know what the right choice is? The coaches see them in practice every day.

Lefty LaRue

August 28th, 2010
8:57 am

Seems like a guy who can successfully run from the police would be a good punt returner. Do we have any of those? Maybe one or two . . . or 43! HAHA HAHA HAHA!

cattle dawg

August 28th, 2010
8:57 am

I am officially in game week mode. High schools kicked off last night. 7 days from now I should have our taigate set up in Athens…. Life is good, but will be a heck of alot better when the direct tv guy is finish putting up my dish. Then got my tv guys coming at 1 to hang my new tv..

Dog Power

August 28th, 2010
8:59 am

1. No Georgia fan wants Ealey to go unpunished- he will be- but there needs to be a sense of proportionality in the punishment.
2. My challenge to those rival fans:
Please document the punishment your school handed out for similar traffic misdemeanors
Please document the punishment your school handed out for similar misbehavior in which Richt kicked guys off the team
Please document ANY school that handed out a game suspension for underage possession as Coach Richt did. I issued this particular challenge about the Tavarres King incident and have yet to have anyone accept it.

AND, if you think your school does not have jocks doing similar things, be on the look out for salemen trying to peddle you the Brooklyn Bridge.

UTk is a JOKE

August 28th, 2010
8:59 am

Lets talk about discipline. A “STAR” player at UTk beats a cop and send him to the hospital and gets NOTHING. A “STAR” player at UGA drives his car with a suspended license and gets suspended for a game. People that are fans of the vols should demand more. The hill is a joke, your team hasnt won an SECC in 13 years, your players get arrested for felonies and do it on camera’s…remember the basketball court incident…..throwing girlfriends, pulling fake guns at cops, robbing stores, raping coeds…Are you kidding me? Go put your heads under a rock on your god awfull ugly campus and make some moonshine.

Lefty LaRue

August 28th, 2010
9:00 am

Bobo is a circus name, right?

cattle dawg

August 28th, 2010
9:00 am

I like Smith as the punt returner myself. AJ will take enough hits as it is.

The Ole Ball Coach

August 28th, 2010
9:04 am

The Bar Knoxville incident ….you remember where 8 Tennessee Vols gangster football players beat down a little fat White guy and attacked a off duty police officer….Only one player kicked off team,
nothing else has occurred or will occur :” matter closed” LOL that is news if you need a report.
Where is that county DA, Police, Judge, administration, coaches………..At Tennessee as long as no one is killed ….it is all fun and games……no big deal. You would not believe what has been swept under a rug in Knoxville and no Quote Newspaper will write that story ……WHY?

Lefty LaRue

August 28th, 2010
9:06 am

All across the South people are reading their Saturday newspapers and LAUGHING at UGA football. 43 arrests! Whoa! Will one of the coaches be next?

tell me again

August 28th, 2010
9:08 am

Ealey made a dumb mistake – but bumping a car in a parking lot and then driving off is not like running a drug cartel out of the locker room like they do at Tech. Or having 11 academically ineligible players on the team at one time. If you want to call any school Thug U – look no further than the pipe bomb making, drug smugglers on North Avenue. Oh and if you visit THERE at three in the monrning you had bertter have your mace and licensed fire arm with you or else you won’t see the sun rise.

Dawgmess

August 28th, 2010
9:08 am

I’m not so concerned about Ealey’s traffic violations. That’s just stupid and immature judgement. What really concerns me is that the coaches knew Ealey had a suspended license and specifically warned him not to drive. He defiantly did it anyhow and that shows a total lack of respect for his coaches. That can’t be tolerated.

I love my Dawgs and hate not having the best players on the field but Ealey should have to sit out at least 2 games. One more infraction from him and he needs to go back to Stillmore and process chickens for a living.

The Ole Ball Coach

August 28th, 2010
9:10 am

Who was it at Florida who was suppended 1/2 a game for eye gouging an intentional act,
while hitting a parked car with no damage is a accident and you get a full game off.

destin dawg

August 28th, 2010
9:28 am

college kids doing what we did…. we had great parties… remember ??? just not in the spot light…. Dumb but not criminal…… Go Dawgs… can’t wait one week !!!

Owl Gore

August 28th, 2010
9:30 am

The thuggery at UGA is totally out of control, and it will continue to get worse while Mark Richt is HC. Fire Richt, hire a real coach, and this will end.

Until then, UGA will keep the Fulmer Cup, and will continue to be embarrassed on a regular basis.

Maybe McGarity has the integrity to do the right thing and sack Richt, but I doubt it.

The thugs and morons at UGA are becoming an embarrassment to everyone in the state, not just UGA. This has got to stop.

And bye the way, forget Green. He was at South Beach, and the NCAA knows about it.

Lawdawg

August 28th, 2010
9:39 am

It is not against the law to drive with a suspended license in a parking deck. The law only applies when driving on a public roadway. Thus if he has a good lawyer the charge may not stick. (nobody saw him driving on a public roadway street, and in fact we don’t know if he drove on a public roadway because he parked the car in the parking garage). The only thing we know he did was hit a parked car and not leave his contact information. Boy he sure is the last of the big time criminals!!!!!

Standard defense from UGA fans

August 28th, 2010
9:42 am

“Everyone else does it and they do even worse things”

I wouldn’t allow that defense from my 13 year old.