Georgia starting cornerback Branden Smith was arrested for marijuana possession on his way to the beach for spring break, police and Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed.
Smith was pulled over near Headland, Ala., at 11:30 p.m. Sunday on U.S. Highway 431 for following too closely and having a tag light out, Henry County Sheriff William Maddox confirmed Monday. Henry County is located in South Alabama along a route frequented by travelers heading to vacation on the Gulf Coast.
An officer detected the odor of marijuana in the 2007 Dodge Charger Smith was driving and a bag of marijuana was discovered under a seat during a search of the vehicle, according to police. Smith and passenger Danze Woods were taken into custody at 11:41 p.m. and transported to the Henry County Jail, police said.
Smith was released on a $2,000 bond by G&I Bonding at 2:15 a.m., police said. Smith is scheduled to face the misdemeanor possession charge on April 10 at 9 a.m. in Henry County District Court, according to court records.
“I don’t know all the details yet, so I don’t want to throw anybody completely under the bus yet, but I’m not thrilled that I’m having to deal with it,” said Richt, speaking at a previously-scheduled spring football press conference Monday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. “In due time, we’ll let you know what’s going to happen with that.”
UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity, who was also attending the news conference, said marijuana arrests of UGA student-athletes carry a mandatory suspension of 10 percent of competition dates. In football that usually means one game, though it is left up to the head coach’s discretion, McGarity said.
A tweet sent out on Smith’s Twitter account, @BrandenSmith1 at about 10:40 p.m. Sunday said “Heading to pc with @MF_CashOnli.” That account belongs to Woods, who a short time before that informed a friend via Twitter, “just passed thru abbeville.”
Smith’s arrest was first reported on a website called RickeyStokesNews.com. According to that report, Woods was arrested on another marijuana possession charge by Henry County Police less than a week ago.
Smith is the second starting cornerback arrested by police this year. Sanders Commings was arrested for domestic violence/simple battery in January and is facing a March 22 arraignment. Commings has already been suspended for the first two games of the upcoming season by Richt.
The secondary has been hit especially hard by attrition since last season. One-time starting safety Jakar Hamilton and cornerback Derek Owens the program during last season and cornerback Jordan Love decided to transfer after the season, both due to lack of playing time. Then cornerback Chris Sanders and safety Nick Marshall were dismissed from the team in January after they were caught stealing money out of a teammate’s dorm room.
McGarity said the most frustrating part is the athletic department held a mandatory meeting with all 600 of UGA’s student-athletes last week to discuss the importance of not putting themselves in bad positions over spring break.
“Every student-athlete met over at the Georgia Center and it was a mandatory meeting,” McGarity said. “Then each sport has their own way of handling it past that. We talked about that in the staff meeting this morning. Are there other things we can be doing to educate? But I think we’re doing enough. Is it enough? Who knows. When somebody steps outside the lines, then we have to self evaluate. Is there more we could have done? At the end of the day I think it comes down to accountability for student-athletes.”