DESTIN, Fla. - Tray Matthews has had a rough time lately. An offseason arrest, benched by his new defensive coach, called out by his head coach.
But Georgia head coach Mark Richt said Wednesday he believes Matthews, his star-crossed safety, may be getting it now.
"I think he's on a turning point of maturing some, and becoming a very dependable guy," Richt said while attending SEC meetings. "I'm not saying he is a dependable guy, or has been at this point. But I have a feeling that that's his desire to become that. And he needs to. It's time."
Matthews has dealt with a nagging hamstring injury, and at one point Richt said the freshman had to "take ownership" of dealing with it. Richt was asked if he has seen Matthews do that yet.
"Yeah. I think he really wants to be great," Richt said. "But he's learning that it comes with a price, it comes with sacrifice, it comes with maturity, it comes with doing things a certain way. And I think he's figuring that out."
No redshirt for Marshall
Richt but the kibosh on any chance that junior tailback Keith Marshall, returning from ACL surgery, would redshirt this season.
"Keith's working really hard. I don't think he has any limitations at all in his offseason conditioning," Richt said. "I don't anticipate him having any limitations when football begins."
In other words, barring a setback Marshall will play and at least be Todd Gurley's top backup.
"We're not thinking redshirt at all for Marshall," Richt said.
It was never likely that Marshall would redshirt, but offensive assistants had not ruled it out.
Richt: Sam coming out 'took courage'
Richt was asked his thoughts on Michael Sam, whose former coach at Missouri, Gary Pinkel, was standing a short ways from Richt on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's interesting that you have that being that big of a deal. But it is a big deal," Richt said of Sam. "Anybody who has the courage to tell the truth about themselves that may be controversial, I give them credit. It shouldn't be that big of a deal, but it is. And because it was, it took courage."
Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked Tuesday about whether he'd recruit a gay player, and said he wouldn't have a problem with it. Richt was asked if he felt the same way.
"I mean, if the guy can play," Richt said, chuckling, "then yeah we'll recruit him."
Georgia-Auburn not moving
Thanks to the schedule switch of two years ago, Georgia will now play both Auburn and Georgia Tech at home every year, or on the road every year. And while the two games are separated by one game this year, in some years they may not be.
Richt doesn't have a problem with that.
"I haven't really looked at it, so I really don't know," he said. "But I think you're always gonna have back-to-back games with great opponents. I think it's inevitable, you can't help it."
Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said he also hasn't looked into moving the Georgia game to earlier in the year.