ATHENS – In his head, Marc Deas had moved on. All that was left was for him was to decide betweenUCF or Georgia Southern.
But then the sophomore defensive back from Kissimmee, Fla., went to a cookout this past weekend and everything changed.
“I was away from the team for about a week and I went to a cookout and I was really enjoying the time with my teammates and stuff,” said Deas, who had informed coach Mark Richt on March 31 he wanted to transfer. “They were talking about the scrimmage and how everything was going. I really enjoyed my time with them and there was a bunch of laughs and smiles and that’s when I realized this is where I need to be.”
On Monday, Deas met with Richt and asked if he could return to the team. Richt reinstated Deas and the the 6-foot-1, 197-pound strong safety returned to practice for the first time in 11 days on Tuesday.
“He told me a couple of stories about how he can relate from him at Miami and his brother and the Air Force,” Deas said of Richt. “He definitely didn’t want to take away the opportunity of a lifetime that I had. So when I told him I wanted to come back he was all for it and took me in. I can’t thank him enough.”
Deas return didn’t come without conditions. He arose at 5 a.m. Tuesday for the first of what will be daily predawn runs before he going to his 8 a.m. class. He’s also squarely on the bottom of the depth chart. But Deas wasn’t complaining.
“I’ve got some early mornings to wake up to, but it’s all worth it,” he said. “It’s been a long day, but I can’t stop smiling I’m so happy to be back.”
Georgia’s glad to have him, too. The Bulldogs’ secondary has been decimated due to transfers and suspensions since the end of this past season.
Senior cornerback Sanders Commings is suspended for the first two games of the season as discipline for an offseason arrests. Senior Branden Smith, the other starting corner, is expected to be suspended after his arrest last month for marijuana possession. And the high school coach of senior Bacarri Rambo said the All-American safety will be suspended for the first four games after running afoul of Georgia’s drug policy for the second time in a year. Meanwhile, defensive backs Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders were dismissed in January for violating team rules and Jakar Hamilton and Jordan Love quit the team since the middle of last season.
“There’s a big opportunity here,” said Deas, who played in all 14 games last season but mostly on special teams. “It just took me a while to sit back and realize what I had in front of me. I kind of took it for granted at the time. I just wanted to pack my bags and leave. It was rough on me, going off like that. But now I can lift that weight off my shoulders. It’s a blessing that I was able to come back.”
Bradberry to leave strength staff
Rex Bradberry, who has served as a strength and conditioning assistant at Georgia since 2002, is leaving UGA to train U.S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
“I can’t go into much detail other than I will be handling all their physical training,” said Bradberry, who will remain at UGA while awaiting security clearance. “I’ll be preparing those teams for battle and hopefully will prevent them from injury and help them save their lives.”
Bradberry becomes the fourth member of this past year’s strength staff to leave UGA. Program director Joe Tereshinski already has hired John Thomas from Penn State as senior associate director and Sherman Armstrong of Tampa as an assistant and speed specialist. Tereshinski said Tuesday he has not decided how he’ll proceed.
Mitchell likely out for G-Day
It appears Georgia will be without another frontline player for Saturday’s G-Day Game. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said cornerback/wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is likely out due to a pulled hamstring. The sophomore from Valdosta, who starred at wide receiver this past season, has been playing almost exclusively on defense in order to help the Bulldogs shore up depth issues in the secondary. He’s hoping to play both ways in the fall.
“Malcolm Mitchell’s not playing I don’t think because of he hurt his hamstring,” Bobo said. “But he looked very good over there on defense. He’s just an athlete that’s very talented.”
If that’s the case, Mitchell will join true freshman tailback Keith Marshall (hamstring) on the sidelines on Saturday. Tailback Richard Samuel (concussion) and safety Shawn Williams (knee) are also expected to miss.
Kolton Houston to start at right tackle
Offensive line coach Will Friend had a surprise when asked what his No. 1 line would be for the G-Day Game. He said sophomore Kolton Houston would be the starter at right tackle.
“We started working him there a week or two ago and he’s really progressed at that spot the last few days,” Friend said. “He had a really good scrimmage [this past Saturday] and he brings a lot of energy and athleticism to the group.”
Houston had been working almost exclusive at guard while sophomores Watts Dantzler and Austin Long were battling it out at right tackle. Friend said the other starters Saturday include left tackle Kenarious Gates, left guard Dallas Lee, center David Andrews and right guard Chris Burnette.