Georgia Revises Drug Testing Policy

ATHENS - Georgia's Athletic Association has revised its drug testing policy for the first time in more than three and a half years, but the changes are relatively minor and do not change the stringent penalty structure already in place for violations.

"We cleaned up some language, but philosophically nothing changed," athletic director Greg McGarity said.

The revised policy, finalized on June 1 and in effect for the coming school year, puts an emphasis on confidentiality on failed tests.

"Employees who improperly release such information are subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment," it states.

Anyone from UGA notified of a substance abuse issue for an athlete "will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement."

The new language comes after reports last season that three running backs had failed a drug test and this spring that safety Bacarri Rambo was suspended four games for his second violation of Georgia's drug policy, something his high school coach confirmed. Linebacker Alec Ogletree also is reportedly facing an early-season suspension. Georgia has not confirmed suspensions for Rambo or Ogletree.

McGarity said he's communicated the need for confidentiality already to his staff, including in memos, but it's being emphasized more.

"That's basically what's confidential is confidential," McGarity said. "Don't talk about it. It's just stressing that. …If anybody wants to leak information they just need to be careful. If it's tracked back to them then they'll probably lose their job."

A first offense still brings a suspension for at least 10 percent of the season (one game). A second offense still triggers a suspension for at least 30 percent of the season (four games). A third offense still will bring dismissal and termination of scholarship. A DUI brings a suspension of at least 20 percent of the season and for a second offense, if one of the two violations is a DUI it's a suspension of at least 50 percent of a season.

McGarity said there was no consideration given to changing the penalty structure.

"It's just what we feel is right for our program," he said. "It's been in place for 18 years. I'm not going to sit here and change something that's been pretty successful for a number of years in education and things like that."

One change is that the athletic director and head coach will determine if a first time offender should practice while suspended from games.

The name of the policy itself has actually undergone a makeover from the "drug testing, education and counseling policy" to a "substance abuse policy."

"Because it covers so many things," McGarity said.

The penalty structure is now the "substance abuse policy offense guidelines" instead of "remedial guidelines for drug offenses."

The last time the policy was changed was Nov. 5, 2008. It may be amended at "any time," according to the latest policy.

Richt wanting more from kickers

Kicker Marshall Morgan and punter Collin Barber, both 2012 signees, made their Sanford Stadium debuts in a preseason practice Tuesday morning.

Barber impressed Mark Richt with his hang time and operation time, but the Georgia coach came away less than satisfied with how the kickers did. He said Morgan made about 75 percent of his kicks.

"In a drill like that, you always want to hit them all," Richt said.

Morgan did better than the 59.5 percent of field goals Georgia made last season, second-to-worst in the SEC.

"Our extra point and field goals were not where they need to be yet," Richt said of Tuesday's showing.

Senior walk-on Jamie Lindley also kicked. He missed one, Richt said.

"When they hit it really good, it looks great, but there was a little inconsistency there, not as deadly accurate as you want," Richt said. "A lot of it is just getting used to going full speed with the live rusher and the new holder and being in Sanford Stadium and everybody watching too. I'm sure that had a little bit to do with it."

Marshall and Lindley fared well on kickoffs.

"High, into the end zone, good hangtime," Richt said.

Richt said it's too early for any separation on the depth chart at kicker and punter. Adam Erickson is also competing at punter.

"I think all four of those guys can do it," Richt said. "It's just a matter of who's going to do it."

Jones grooming Theus

Offensive lineman John Theus' introduction to the college game in his first week of practices at Georgia has included more than his share of trying to block Jarvis Jones, the junior who was a consensus All-American last year.

"I'm trying to make it my business that they have him ready from day one," Jones said.

The 6-foot-6, 309-pound Theus, a five-star recruit from Jacksonville, Fla., is working at right tackle, where he is competing with sophomore Watts Dantzler for the starting job.

"John's not gotten to the point where we're going to name him the starter yet, but I don't think there's any doubt he's going to play and he knows that," Richt said.

Said Jones: "Theus is going to be a great athlete for us, y'all know that, coming out of high school. He's done great. He's young, but he's definitely learning. They're definitely coaching him up so he can make the big plays that he needs and make the big plays they need to and make the big blocks that he needs to."

Theus is learning while going up against the likes of Jones, who led the SEC last year with 13 ½ sacks.

"If he gets it now, when that time does come, he'll be ready," Jones said.

Jones said Theus is adjusting to the speed of the game. Jones likes what he's seen from the offensive line as a whole.

"Those guys are getting a whole lot better," he said. "I'm seeing improvement in them every day."

Veterans chipping in

Georgia held two practices on Tuesday. There's only one one more two-a-day this preseason.

Snapper Ty Frix called the morning sessions "special teams top to bottom," everything from snap, to kick to tackle.

As Richt has said, everyone will be asked to pitch in on special teams.

That includes Jones, who is working on punt coverage, but he's unsure if the will play on the unit. Jones did not play on any special teams last year.

"A lot of the guys, especially the older guys, want to get put in those positions," Jones said. "They know to win the big games we need special teams. Special teams is very important so all the older guys have taken initiative to step into the roles that the coaches want us to be on those special teams plays."

This and that

Georgia will hold its first preseason scrimmages today. "I look at the first scrimmage as like your first preseason game," said defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who coached for 11 seasons in the NFL. "Right there you want to evaluate your guys ability to make plays." Grantham said he will use the scrimmage to evaluate players such as T.J. Stripling, who is in the mix to play at outside linebacker. "I look at that as a big evaluation for how we need to set these guys up," he said. …Outside linebacker James Deloach (strained hamstring) and cornerback Damian Swann (sprained neck) practiced Tuesday in non-contact jerseys. End Ray Drew (concussion) remains out. Offensive guard Chris Burnette (illness) and defensive end Abry Jones (knee contusion) returned to practice. Offensive tackle Kolton Houston, who is ineligible for testing positive for a banned substance, was back practicing after being excused for a few days. …Richt said Malcolm Mitchell, Branden Smith, Rambo, Swann and Rhett McGowan are working on punt returns. Justin Scott-Wesley, Smith, Mitchell, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are returning kicks. …Richt said freshman safety Josh Harvey-Clemons has made at least four interceptions in practices.

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