Georgia notes: Injury updates, Richt laughs off retirement

semerson@macon.comJuly 17, 2014 

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BEAU CABELL/ THE TELEGRAPH Athens, Ga., 09/07/2013: Georgia tailback Keith Marshall runs off tackle for first down yardage against South Carolina.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com

HOOVER, Ala. – Keith Marshall and Malcolm Mitchell are healthy and ready to practice. Justin Scott-Wesley, on the other hand, may have to wait. The junior receiver is recovering a bit slower from an ACL injury, which occurred last October. Georgia head coach Mark Richt indicated on Thursday that Scott-Wesley will still be limited when practice begins on Aug. 1.

“I think he might be available to play Day 1, but I don’t know if he’ll be playing at a tempo and where we feel like he’s ready to do it at the highest level,” Richt said. “And there’s a lot of competition at that position as well. So I’m not 100 percent how long it’ll be before he gets in there and goes full speed.”

Richt hasn’t confirmed it, but Scott-Wesley is also facing a one-game suspension for his arrest last fall on marijuana possession.

Marshall tore his ACL in the same game last season, but all reports are that the junior tailback is in good shape.

“He looks exactly like the old Keith,” senior receiver Chris Conley said.

“Keith looks great,” Richt said. “Straight-ahead he looks outstanding in that area. He is changing direction. I don’t know if he’d say he’s 100 percent today. But he has no limitations whatsoever in his training.”

Mitchell, who tore his ACL in last season’s opener, is also on track for the start of practice.

“Poo-Pa”

Richt is a new grandfather. His son Jon and wife Anna welcomed daughter Jadyn into the world last week – and they’ve all been living with Richt. The young family moved from Nashville when Jon became a quality control assistant for Georgia. He’s unpaid because of state nepotism laws.

Richt has already selected his grandfather name: Poo-Pa. And why did he want that?

“I don’t know, I just liked it,” Richt said. “And everyone hated it, so that’s probably why I said it.”

Richt, 54, laughed when asked if becoming a grandfather had him thinking about retiring to become a full-time grandfather. That led Richt into another explanation on why he’d rather stay as a coach.

“People come to me and say: ‘Coach whenever you retire we think you’re gonna go off and do mission work and stuff like that.’ But there’s not a greater mission than college athletics and being the head coach at the University of Georgia. There’s so many young men we get to touch their lives and influence,” Richt said. “It’s a mission in itself, really. (My wife) Kathryn and I were talking about it the other day.”

Say no to drugs

Richt continues to support UGA’s student-athlete drug policy, the most stringent in the SEC. It suspends a player one game for a first offense. Richt was asked if he was worried the drug policy puts Georgia at a competitive disadvantage.

"No, we're not worried about that part of it,” Richt said. “We don't want our guys to do drugs, okay? I don't want my son to do drugs. We've got policies that are stronger maybe than some when it comes to the punitive part of it. That's kind of what everybody talks about. Georgia ends up suspending their guys a little bit sooner in the policy, which I've got no problems with."

Life still too short

Richt also reiterated his philosophy on granting players the right to transfer wherever they like. He was asked about it in the aftermath of the rash of offseason departures that saw two key players go to Louisville and another to Auburn.

"When guys leave our program, my goal for them is that they continue their career and they continue and realize all their dreams,” Richt said. “Life's too short. They're young men that make mistakes. If somewhere along the way you learn from your mistake, you turn it around, finish your career strong, I'm happy for the guy."

Gurley on the O-line

The offensive line, which lost three starters, remains the big question for Georgia’s offense. But star tailback Todd Gurley said he feels good about it, even though it may not have the size of a certain other football program.

“We don’t get the Alabama, big, country 6-5, 320. But we get some good ones,” Gurley said. “I love my line. David (Andrews), John (Theus), Kolton (Houston), Hunter (Long), Watts (Dantzler), all those guys. They’re just so close together with each other. They do everything together. I think that’s a good thing.

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