Richt: Dismissing Crowell Wasn't Easy

HOOVER, Ala. – Coach Mark Richt met with reporters Thursday at SEC Media Days for the first time since dismissing star tailback Isaiah Crowell.

Richt said the decision to dismiss Crowell, who was arrested in June on felony weapons charges, wasn't easy.

"It's always tough because I care very much about all of these guys," Richt said. "Having to make those kinds of decisions are tough. In the end, I think we did what was in the best interest of the program. I wish Isaiah the very best in his future and hopefully things will work out for him."

Crowell, who rushed for 850 yards and five touchdowns in 2011, is now enrolled at Alabama State.

Perhaps junior Jarvis Jones knew Crowell as well as anyone on the team. Both played for Carver-Columbus High.

"I mean it was kind of devastating for everyone because he was working so hard," Jones said. "He hadn't been getting in trouble. He was becoming a leader, and then something like (the arrest) happened. It kind of upset some people."

Richt said dismissing Crowell "was not a happy day," but both he and Jones offered words of support and encouragement for the young player moving forward.

"I think you just have to make better decisions," Jones said. "I think he will. Everybody is still supporting him, everybody is still loving him. We're here for him."

The line of questioning then moved to who will take Crowell's place in the backfield. Redshirt sophmore Ken Malcome was listed as the starter exiting spring. And senior Richard Samuel's transition to fullback has been halted.

Freshmen Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are expected to contribute, too.

Both North Carolina natives, Marshall enrolled in January while Gurley arrived in June.

"I think Keith certainly has been diligent to learn what to do, and that's more than half the battle," Richt said. "He's lived through a spring. Even though he did have a hamstring injury he got to practice, so he's got a pretty good idea what's coming. Of course Todd, it's just hard for me to say."

As to who is the favorite to be the starter this season, Richt said: "I have no idea what camp is going to look like. It is wide open for those guys."

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