The senior offensive tackle has been suspended for the Bulldogs’ first two games for violating team rules. He won’t even attend the game. That would be too hard, he’s already decided.
“That’s like a hometown game for me, so it hurts,” he said this week in his first public comments since his suspension. “It really does.”
It may be a small price to pay, though, for turning his personal life around. Inman has handled his suspension with the perfect attitude and, more importantly, has made positive changes off the field in response to it, Coach Mark Richt said.
“I think he’s a new man,” Richt said. “He’s just so happy that he’s got his life on track now. I just see a new gleam in his eyes. He’s really excited. He’s working hard. He knows he made a mistake, but he’s really bent on changing his ways.”
Daniel Inman and Richt have declined to specify Inman’s offense, but two sources with knowledge of the situation told The Telegraph that Inman failed a drug test.
“This has been a good thing for Dan Inman,” Richt said. “It’s really helped him get his priorities straight. It’s helped him see he really needed to change some of his habits that were not really healthy for him.”
Inman initially wrote off his behavior as the typical explorations of youth, he said.
“But, you know, I’m not that young anymore,” he said. “I don’t want to sit here and watch my career at Georgia pass by. I needed to change some things about my personality and some things about me. It’s been some growing pains. I guess everybody goes through it eventually. Mine just happened to hit me later.”
Inman has started 25 straight games for the Bulldogs, the most of any Georgia player. Now the Bulldogs will have to start Michael Turner, a senior who has played three positions since coming to Athens, in the first two games of the season. Turner has yet to start a game.
That inexperience could cost the Bulldogs dearly against the Gamecocks, but Richt and Georgia quarterback Joe Tereshinski are focused more on what Inman has gained rather than what the team might lose.
“Dan’s really a changed guy,” Tereshinski said. “When he comes back you know he’s going to be ready. He’s going to come out firing and be really excited.”
Tereshinski and Inman are not only teammates. They’re also roommates, sharing a small house with several other Bulldogs and ex-Bulldogs.
“He’s a great guy,” Tereshinski said. “If you have a problem, you can go to him and talk to him and you can count on him to back you up. He’s a great friend and one of those guys you can really depend on. Right now, we need to get his back.”
Inman feels and appreciates the support.
“Everybody has tried to help me,” he said. “I guess when you surround yourself with good people, they are there to help you when you fall. That’s the good thing about being here at Georgia. They’re all good people.”
He also doesn’t want to focus on the two games he’ll miss, but rather the 11 -- or 12, if Georgia qualifies for the SEC Championship Game -- for which he will be eligible.
“Once you get everything out of the way, get all the punishment and stuff behind you, then you can start moving on,” he said. “That’s kind of what I’ve done. You break rules, I think you should pay the consequences. I’m no different than anybody else even though I’m a senior.”
That’s not to say the month of preseason practice won’t be hard. Inman probably will be relegated to the scout team, so the players who are forced to step into his spot can get the maximum amount of work.
“It’ll be hard in camp, getting booted back,” he said. “I haven’t ever been in that position, and I think that’ll be good for me, to see what it’s like to be standing there not playing. Hopefully, I won’t ever put myself in that situation again.
“It’s been kind of a life-changing experience, and it’s going good so far.”