UGA Running Back Jasper Sanks Dismissed From Team

ATHENS, Ga. — A college career that never satisfied the expectations of many took a final downward turn Wednesday when Georgia running back <b>Jasper Sanks</b> was dismissed from the team by Coach <b>Mark Richt</b>.

Only two regular-season games and one bowl game away from completing his career, Sanks' season ended unexpectedly.

Richt said Sanks, a senior from Columbus, was dismissed for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Only one day earlier, Sanks spoke with great anticipation of having one more opportunity to avenge his controversial fumble in the 1999 game at Georgia Tech. Instead, Sanks' final fumble may have been off the field and it robbed him of that much-anticipated opportunity.

Only time will tell what effect the dismissal may have on Sanks' chances at an NFL career.

Said Sanks Tuesday in what proved to be a prophetic statement: "I can live with all the success I had, so I can live with the failure.''

Richt would not say what team rule Sanks violated, but he said Sanks has not been dismissed from the University of Georgia.

"I'm very disappointed,'' Richt said. "His teammates were counting on him, other people were counting on him. He's done something that is keeping him from helping his teammates, this program and himself. On the other hand, I want him to stay in school, get his degree and do well in life.''

Sanks led Georgia with 896 yards rushing as a sophomore, but he lost his starting job last season and then was arrested after the season in Columbus for misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana. The charges were dropped two months later.

The dismissal of Sanks follows last week's decision to remove tailback Musa Smith from the starting lineup due to Smith's lingering groin injury.

Verron Haynes moved from fullback to tailback and rushed for 192 yards, the most for a Georgia player since 1992. Haynes will start again in Saturday night's 7:45 game at Georgia Tech, but the loss of Sanks robs the offense of its most experienced back.

Richt has said Smith may be available for some action against Tech, but he said Smith is not able to start.

After Haynes and Smith, freshman Mike Gilliam and sophomore Kenny Bailey will be the next players on the depth chart at tailback.

Sanks did not return phone messages Wednesday evening.

"I'm mad at him and I'm concerned about him at the same time,'' Richt said.

"I always use the analogy about children. If your child makes a mistake, you might get mad but you still love them, you care about them and you want them to correct their behavior and then do well.''

Richt hinted Tuesday that something may have been wrong with Sanks when he said: "He will just ‘Yes, sir' and ‘No, sir' you to death. He has trouble doing his best sometime.''

Added Richt Wednesday: "I told the team when I got here, one of the first things I asked them was if they knew the difference between right and wrong. Of course, they all said they did, and I told them that they had to do right. That's the most important rule we've got around here.''

Sanks gave no indication after practice Tuesday that he was on shaky ground with Richt. Instead, he was looking back at his controversial fumble late in the 1999 loss at Tech.

"It shouldn't have been (a fumble) but it was, and that was the point, that was the last judgement, that was the call,'' Sanks said. "We lost. We did lose the game and it was the pivotal moment of the game. I still look at it as a fumble.''

Ironically, though he may be remembered for the fumble, Sanks has not fumbled in his senior season.

"I probably think of him as one of the guys who's gonna have ball control,'' said running backs coach Tony Pierce Tuesday. "We don't worry about that at all.''

Sanks has 84 carries for 338 yards and two touchdowns this season, including 50 yards rushing in last week's 35-15 win at Mississippi.

Sanks' best season was as a sophomore in 1999, when he rushed for 896 yards with six touchdowns. But before the controversial fumble at Tech, he also fumbled at a critical moment of Georgia's loss to Florida.

Sanks spent much of the 2000 season in former Coach Jim Donnan's doghouse.

He rushed for 352 yards and four touchdowns in more limited playing time.

Sanks played much of last season in a cloud of rumors after he was held out of two games. The stated reason for Sanks not playing was injuries, but when he was fired, Donnan was criticized for using an injury as an excuse to hold a player out for disciplinary reasons.

There was never an official confirmation that Donnan actually had held out Sanks for reasons other than injury.

NOTE: Georgia starting offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb suffered a sprained knee in practice and probably will not play against Tech Saturday.

"I'd say he's doubtful but we'll know more (today),'' Richt said.

Stinchcomb is Georgia's top offensive lineman. If he can't play, Kareem Marshall and George Foster would be Georgia's starting tackles.

Charles Odum can be reached at CEOdum@aol.com.


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