Fall Camp 2005: Day 1 News and Notes

D.J. Shockley

ATHENS - Tavares Kearney's disciplinary issues are finally over, but they didn't end quite the way he expected.

Georgia's freshman linebacker was placed on probation Friday until May 13, 2006, after signing an informal resolution agreement with the university admitting he violated two of the school's University Conduct Regulations. Kearney said Thursday that he thought that was the only punishment he would have to serve, but Coach Mark Richt informed him otherwise Friday.

In addition to his punishment from the school's administration, Kearney will have to serve a one-game suspension, complete community service and complete internal discipline, Richt announced in a statement released during the team's first day of fall practice.

"We all have to live under authority," Richt said in the statement.

"Whether it's a faculty member, coach, parent, police officer or supervisor, we all have to respect authority. In this case, it was unacceptable for Tavares, as it would have been for any of our players, to be involved in any altercation with a faculty member. The situation has been resolved, and it's now behind us."

Kearney admitted in his agreement with the university to engaging in disorderly conduct during a confrontation with a teaching assistant, but he continued to deny he squeezed the female instructor's hand or twisted her arm.

For his violations, he was placed on probation by the school's Office of Judicial Programs and also must take anger management classes, meet with associate dean of students Kim Ellis once a month for the next four months and not enroll in any classes taught by the teaching assistant.

"I realize I did not handle the situation in the best way possible, but I feel the process has been handled in a fair way," Kearney said in the school's statement. "I'm relieved the matter has been resolved."

Richt acknowledged before announcing Kearney's punishment that he will be taking a more strict stance on discipline issues in the wake of a tumultuous off season.

"Things will be handled a little more severely than they were in the past," he said.

Despite the problems, Richt thinks his program still has a solid image, and he pointed to its 15 verbal commitments this early in the recruiting season as part of the proof of that.

"I don't think anybody who really takes the time to look into it has lost any confidence in how we're doing our business," he said.

QUICK ASCENSION: Jamario Smith's head must be spinning. Last week, the Bulldogs announced the senior from Mary Persons had been put on scholarship. This week, he showed up at practice and was the second-team strong side linebacker.

That's not bad for a player who hasn't posted a defensive statistic since 2002 and didn't play at all last year due to a back injury. Smith, who played fullback in 2003, has 11 tackles in his career.

Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez acknowledged that Smith's spot is partly attributable to the team's lack of depth at the position but praised the senior's play at the same time.

"When he was healthy, he was productive for us," Martinez said.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Thomas Brown and Bryan McClendon are the Bulldogs' top two kickoff return men, according to Danny Ware, who said he and Tyson Browning are the backups at that spot.

NO COMPLAINTS: Richt wasn't offended to see his team ranked No. 13 inthe country when the first coaches poll of the season was released Friday morning.

"That's about where I put us," said Richt, a poll voter. "It certainly puts you in position with the schedule we have to move up."

The Bulldogs have been ranked No. 6 or higher in each of the last three year-end coaches' polls, and some of the players have suggested they don't think they're getting enough respect this year.

"If (the ranking) stokes their fire, I'm all for it," Richt said.

THIS AND THAT: Georgia's players in the Maymester school session posted an average GPA of 3.26. The team's average GPA for the first session of summer school was 3.02. ... Freshman offensive lineman Ian Smith will be trained at center. ... Freshmen wide receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Michael Moore clearly aren't afraid of expectations.Massaquoi has taken Reggie Brown's former No. 1, and Moore has taken No. 82, Fred Gibson's old number.

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