Despite back-to-back national championships, the Georgia Bulldogs football program has experienced a difficult offseason marked by arrests and a tragic car crash involving a player and a recruiting staff member. Head coach Kirby Smart addressed these concerns as the team commenced spring practice.
Smart acknowledged that young players sometimes make mistakes, but emphasized the coaching staff’s responsibility to educate and discipline them to prevent such incidents. He assured that the program’s high standards have not wavered.
Among the players facing charges is defensive tackle Jalen Carter, a top NFL draft prospect whose draft outlook has been potentially affected by misdemeanor charges of racing and reckless driving. These charges are related to a January 15th crash that resulted in the deaths of teammate Devin Willock and 24-year-old recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy. The accident took place shortly after the Bulldogs celebrated their second consecutive national championship.
Team members are still grappling with the losses of Willock and LeCroy. Defensive lineman Zion Logue and wide receiver Ladd McConkey both spoke about the difficulty of coping with the tragedy while focusing on football.
Carter, who is scheduled for arraignment on April 18th, maintains his innocence and expects to be “fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.” Linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson and quarterback Stetson Bennett are also facing charges related to reckless driving and public intoxication, respectively.
Coach Smart highlighted the importance of the expectations placed on student-athletes at Georgia and acknowledged that some have not met those standards. When players make mistakes, Smart said the staff aims to discipline, educate, and support them in a positive manner.
Smart had previously arranged for local police officers to speak to the team about the dangers of street racing last summer. The recent tragedy underscores the gravity of the situation and the need for continued education and support.
The coach also addressed the fact that the vehicle involved in the fatal crash should not have been driven by Willock, as it was designated for work purposes only. He emphasized the importance of following proper protocols and ensuring players understand the consequences of their actions.