Football notes: An emphasis on 'making good choices' over spring break

semerson@macon.comMarch 7, 2013 

Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti works with his players during Thursday's practice:

ATHENS - Georgia held its final practice Thursday before everyone went their separate ways for spring break. And the hope around the program is not to have a repeat of what happened last year.

Three players, including defensive stars Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo, ended up being suspended the first four games of the season after reportedly testing positive for marijuana after spring break in 2012. Another player, Branden Smith, was arrested on marijuana possession on the way to spring break, although Smith was later cleared.

Head coach Mark Richt said his team always talks to the team before spring break about flying right, and will do so again this year. Each position coach would “say his piece” to their players, according to Richt, who also planned to speak to the team after Thursday’s practice.

The team also had a guest speaker this week: Steve Herndon, who played four years in the NFL after playing offensive guard at Georgia from 1996-2000.

“It had to do with making good choices,” Richt said. “I mean that was the big thing.”

Quarterback Aaron Murray will be spending his spring break in Oklahoma, working with renowned quarterback guru George Whitfield, who was the subject of a recent Sports Illustrated profile.

Murray didn’t even tell Richt about it until Wednesday.

“He didn’t ask my permission – not that he needed to. I think it’s a positive thing for him to do,” Richt said. “That’s just typical Aaron Murray. He wants to be the best he can possibly be, and he’s not afraid to work hard to find some kind of edge to help himself and help Georgia be better.”

Flournoy-Smith punishment will be 'internal'

Richt said the punishment for tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith, arrested last month on a charge of filing a false police report, was internal. That would indicate no suspension.

“I’m taking care of him,” Richt said. “He’s already been in the process of handling some of it.”

Richt then went on to praise Flournoy-Smith’s playing ability, saying the freshman should be able to earn quality playing time.

“He can move, and he’s got good route-running skills,” Richt said. “And he’s tough. “Most kids from south Georgia, they play pretty tough, hard-nosed football down there. I think he’s got a bright future if he can just make good choices in life and work hard.”

Talking up the strength program

More praise for Georgia's offseason program from Richt, who said Thursday that it looks like the players did a lot of good work in January and February. He pointed to receiver Justin Scott-Wesley, who has dropped 15 pounds, down to about 205. Tailback Todd Gurley has also trimmed down.

“Gurley looks like he’s got great endurance and more quickness than he had by the end of last season,” Richt said. “But there’s a lot of guys like that. I see a team that’s not as big, but … I just think we’re in good condition. We’re fit and strong and athletic. So we’ll just see if we’ll be able to hold up in the toughness area.”

This and that

Offensive tackle John Theus (foot surgery) is still expected to return before the end of spring practice, according to Richt. ...

Redshirt sophomore Brandon Burrows is working at outside linebacker this spring. Burrows has been an inside linebacker at Georgia, but is getting a look outside with Chase Vasser (shoulder surgery) out for spring practice. ...

Parker Welch and Christian LeMay are still alternating as third-team quarterbacks.

Recently-graduated receiver Tavarres King was in attendance at Thursday's practice. ...

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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