A Long Conversation with Himself

ATHENS – Dexter Morant thought he had put an end to his tortured thoughts, his weeks of back-and-forth conversations with himself.

Instead, it only got continued on the drive home, after he thought he had finally quit football – not just the Georgia football team, but the sport itself. There was still so much going through his head.

"I hope I made the right decision," Morant recalled thinking as he made the two-hour drive back to Manning, S.C.

Morant recalled those wavering emotions on Monday, as he wore a gray Georgia practice shirt. Two weeks ago he quit the Bulldog football team. Three days later he re-joined the team.

Strange as it may seem to say, the 6-foot-7 defensive player said it was something that ultimately had to happen.

"I regret what I did, but it's like I don't at the same time," Morant said. "Because it made me realize that this not-playing-football is not for me. I've gotta play football. As soon as I got home I was like, Why am I here right now. I was just sitting there with nothing to do."

Why did he quit in the first place? Morant said he was a bit homesick, even though he had been in Athens all summer. The bad feelings had built through the weeks, and he reached a breaking point once practice started on Aug. 2.

On Aug. 3, Morant walked up to Richt, car keys in hand, and told him he had to quit.

"Football isn't for everybody," Richt said in announcing Morant's departure to the media the following day.

"My stomach just started feeling crazy and stuff. I don't know what it was, but it just pushed me to go home, I don't know why," Morant said.

But he didn't exactly return to a huge welcome. Friends asked what he was doing back in town. His high school coach was publicly critical. Others told him how they had been depending on him.

And in Manning, his comfort zone for 18 years, something just didn't feel right.

So he started calling Georgia players, feeling out whether he'd be able to return. They didn't know. He prayed, then called Richt, who was noncommittal at firsts.

Then Richt, after checking with coaches and players, called him back and told him to report back the next morning, a Saturday.

Morant said he was welcomed back fully. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham even sort of kidded him about it.

"Are you gonna stay this time?" Grantham asked, according to Morant.

"Yes sir, I'm gonna stay this time, I'm ready," Morant said.

Morant is probably headed for a redshirt. He has been working at defensive end and linebacker, two very prime spots in Grantham's 3-4 alignment.

Richt was asked Monday how Morant has been since he returned.

"Good. I think good. He's still here," Richt said, laughing. "You can't expect overnight he'll all of a sudden feel great about everything. He's still I'm sure working through this whole big change in his life. But this time I think he feels like he's not doing it alone. …

"I think he feels like he's gonna make it this time."

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