Johnson sent to GMC for "violation of team rules"

Josh Johnson

ATHENS – Like Odell Thurman before him, Josh Johnson will have to spend a year at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville to prove to Georgia coach Mark Richt that he wants to play for the Bulldogs.

On Wednesday, Richt announced in a statement released by the school that he has dismissed Josh Johnson from the team for at least one season. Johnson, a linebacker who signed with the Georgia out of Stephenson High School in 2004 and redshirted last season, will play at GMC this year, and then his status will be re-evaluated.

"Although Josh is in good academic standing, he has fallen short of our expectations in some areas related to discipline," Richt said in the statement. "We have both agreed it would be in his best interest to spend next season at GMC to work on those areas of responsibility. We'll monitor his situation and progress at GMC and later consider the possibility of his returning to Georgia at some point."

Johnson, reached Wednesday evening by The Telegraph, said his dismissal was due to an "accumulation of things," specifically repeated violations of team rules. He added that the decision had nothing to do with legal issues.

"I'm not supposed to tell what it was, but it was team rules," he said. "It's just like a little hump in the road. It was just something that happened. It'll be a good thing for me."

Richt did not indicate the reason for Johnson's dismissal in his release, and he could not be reached for further comment Wednesday. Johnson said he was not given any warning that Richt's decision was coming but added he agreed with the decision.

"It was out of my hands, but we agree with it," he said.

Johnson said he has already gotten advice from Thurman, the Monticello native who followed this same path in 2002. After redshirting in 2001, Thurman was sent to GMC for one season and then allowed to return to the team in 2003. He ended up starting for the Bulldogs in 2003 and 2004. He was selected with the 48th overall pick of the NFL Draft earlier this year.

"He just told me to go down there and get together and ball out," Johnson said.

The dismissal comes at an area of strength for the Bulldogs but still could be costly. This spring, Johnson made significant progress, according to his coaches, and he seemed poised to fight for a starting job this fall. Georgia still has veterans Jarvis Jackson, Brandon Miller, Tony Taylor, Danny Verdun Wheeler and Derrick White (suspended for first two games) available at linebacker, along with redshirt freshman Dannell Ellerbe.

Johnson has no doubt he can fulfill the requirements set down by Richt to return to Georgia in 2006, he said.

"I know I'll be back," he said.

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