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UGA's Smith arrested, charged with marijuana possession

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia cornerback Branden Smith was arrested and charged with marijuana possession late Sunday, the third starter from last year’s team to be arrested in the offseason.

The junior was pulled over for having no tag light and following another vehicle too closely in Abbeville in southeastern Alabama, Henry County Sherriff William Maddox said. The arresting officer smelled marijuana in the car and found it under the back seat after a search, the sheriff said.

Smith could be suspended for at least a one game, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said.

Smith and a passenger in the car, Dazme Rayshaun Woods of Atlanta, face misdemeanor charges of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.

Smith was released on $2,000 bond Monday. Woods was released on $3,000 bond. Woods’ bond was higher because he was arrested last week for felony marijuana possession.

The Henry County Sherriff’s office did not know whether Smith had an attorney.

Another starting cornerback, Sanders Commings, was arrested on a domestic violence charge in Athens on Jan. 21. Coach Mark Richt suspended Commings for the first two games of the 2012 season.

On Friday, former Georgia tight end Orson Charles was arrested in Athens on a drunken driving charge. Charles, who was a junior on the 2011 team, left school early to enter the NFL draft.

McGarity said the school’s policy calls for student-athletes who have misdemeanor arrests to be suspended for 10 percent of competitions. For football players, that means at least a one-game suspension.

The University of Georgia is on spring break, and McGarity said all student-athletes were advised to avoid trouble while away from campus.

“We had a mandatory meeting with every student-athlete the week before spring break to go over this very thing. Every student-athlete,” McGarity said.

McGarity said Richt also has people from outside the program come to talk to the players about off-the-field conduct, among other subjects. The recent arrests prompted McGarity to bring it up with his staff.

“We talked about it at a staff meeting this morning,” he said. “What else is there? Are there other things we can be doing to educate? But I think we’re doing enough. Is it enough? Who knows? We’ve got 600 young men and women in our programs. When someone steps outside the lines, then we have to self-evaluate. Is there more we could have done? But I think at the end of the day it comes down to more accountability for the student-athletes.”

Richt said he had a brief telephone conversation with Smith.

“In due time, we’ll let you know what will happen with that,” said Richt, who called the news “very frustrating.”

Richt said part of his message to players is to avoid associating with the wrong people.

“We say be careful who you’re with,” he said.