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Ex-Early star Williams stands out in UGA scrimmage; Richt addresses Bulldogs' off-the-field issues --- sort of

Senior safety Shawn Williams of Damascus paced the Georgia Bulldogs’ defense with 4.5 tackles, two pass breakups and an interception that he returned 34 yards Saturday during the team’s first spring scrimmage.

Senior safety Shawn Williams of Damascus paced the Georgia Bulldogs’ defense with 4.5 tackles, two pass breakups and an interception that he returned 34 yards Saturday during the team’s first spring scrimmage.

ATHENS — Senior safety Shawn Williams paced the Georgia Bulldogs’ defense with 4.5 tackles, two pass breakups and an interception that he returned 34 yards Saturday during the team’s first spring scrimmage, leaving coach Mark Richt impressed by what he saw from the Damascus native and former Early County Bobcats star.

Richt addresses UGA’s latest off-the-field issues — sort of

ATHENS — In light of the reports this week that starting safety and former Seminole County star Bacarri Rambo — Georgia’s only AP First-Team All-American last season — would be suspended for the first four games of the season for failing a random drug test, coach Mark Richt did his best to address the team’s latest off-the-field issue Saturday after Georgia’s first spring scrimmage. Although, he never mention Rambo by name in his comments because the university still has not confirmed the suspension, which was first reported Thursday by ESPN, according to Rambo’s high school coach, Alan Ingram.

“At Georgia, we’ve got rules and policies that we feel are in the best interest of the players — things like going to class, going to tutors and study hall, and how to behave. Everything we do and every rule we have is to benefit these guys and the team,” Richt told reporters Saturday. “A lot of our discipline does involve playing time. That’s the one thing guys covet the most. When you discipline guys and take away playing time, you’re hoping that sticks enough where it will change that individual’s behavior so it’s better in the future. We’re willing to carry it out, even if it hurts. We have high accountability for everyone.

“If a guy makes a mistake, we handle it. We don’t just let it go by. Those are the expectations we have. If you do right, you’re rewarded. If you don’t, you get disciplined. That’s part of learning.”

This has been a difficult offseason for Georgia. Starting cornerback Sanders Commings was suspended for the first two games after he was charged in a domestic dispute. The other starting corner, Branden Smith, is facing at least a one-game suspension for his arrest on marijuana possession charges, while Alex Ogletree also reportedly could be suspended.

— Staff, wire reports

“I just see guys making plays all around,” Richt said. “On every snap, it seems like someone does something well.”

Another former Southwest Georgia star, Ray Drew of Thomas County Central, and cornerback Branden Smith each had four tackles, while nose tackle Mike Thornton and linebacker Chase Vasser each had 3.5 sacks.

But the big story was on offense from redshirt freshman tight end Jay Rome of Valdosta. Rome highlighted the afternoon at Sanford Stadium as he hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hutson Mason during regulation, then pulled down a leaping touchdown pass from Parker Welch during goal-line drills in the scrimmage, which ended with Richt addressing UGA’s off-the-field issues involving several players who have run into trouble this offseason.

“Jay Rome had two touchdowns (Saturday), and that was nice to see,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “His one catch during goal-line (drills) was pretty acrobatic. He had to turn his body and reach back to snag it. It was a really nice catch.”

The Bulldogs had offensive drives begin on various parts of the field, with first-teamers vs. first-teamers and second-teamers vs. second-teamers. Rome had the only touchdown during regulation, and Jamie Lindley kicked a field goal.

Quarterback Aaron Murray was 9 of 18 for 74 yards, followed by Mason going 5 of 12 for 59 yards and Christian LeMay going 2 of 7 for 44 yards. Justin Scott-Wesley led the receivers with 51 yards on three grabs. Marlon Brown had two catches for 37 yards. The ground game was fairly evenly spread out: Brandon Harton (8 rushes, 24 yards), Kyle Karempelis (8-22), Keith Marshall (5-18), Isaiah Crowell (4-19) and Ken Malcome (4-13). Malcome and Crowell each scored a touchdown in the goal-line drills.

Georgia’s defense registered 12 sacks on the day, although that stat is subjective because play is whistled dead as soon as the defense makes contact with the quarterback. Linebacker Mike Gilliard also had an interception.

TWO PLAYERS LEAVE PROGRAM: Richt announced Saturday that defensive back Marc Deas has decided to transfer to seek more playing time at another school. Deas met with Richt on Friday and informed him of his decision. Earlier Friday, Richt announced a similar decision by defensive end Derrick Lott.

“They love Georgia, and we love them,” Richt said. “They had a choice to make. They decided to move on. They’re great kids and we wish them well. ... Their teammates understand they’ve got decisions to make and lives to live. No one likes losing a teammate, but we love them. And if they think their best chance is at another school, then I think (their teammates) understand.”