The aggravation in Mark Richt's voice was impossible to ignore as he talked about running back Washaun Ealey, who he announced was being suspended for at least one game following his arrest early Friday morning by UGA police.
Ealey was picked up and charged with driving with a suspended license and hit-and-run of a parked vehicle.
Later, a third charge was added in the form of a municipal bench warrant, as Ealey had failed to show up in court on July 12 for a previous charges of speeding and registration issues. All three charges are misdemeanors. He was released at 11:18 a.m. Friday on a $3,480 bond.
"I'm not happy with it. It's foolish. He knew better. He knew better. No one thinks it's going to happen to him but he knew his license was suspended. We knew it was suspended. As a matter of fact we spend a lot of hours checking on every single player making sure their licenses are up to date and if they're not making them aware of that and let them know that they can't drive," Richt said after practice Friday. "He talked to Josh Brooks, our Director of Football Operations and Bryan McClendon (running backs coach). He saw them face to face and he knew he had a suspended license. He said he wouldn't drive, then decided that one little short distance wouldn't hurt, and it did. He's paying a severe price for that."
Richt did not rule out additional games for Ealey, who was the team's leading rusher in 2009 with 125 carries for 717 yards and three touchdowns.
"We'll just see how he reacts to this and I've got some internal things for him to handle," Richt said. "If he handles them the way he should, behaves between now and the next one he'll have a pretty good chance of playing but he's got to show me he deserves a chance to play but also practice with the team."
Ealey did not practice with the team Friday.
"He just ran all day," Richt said.
Richt admitted he was so angry that he almost did not speak to Ealey at all.
The coach only changed his mind after he decided what the punishment would be.
"I didn't plan on talking to him because I wasn't in the right frame of mind, because I didn't know what I might say," Richt said. "After I decided I was going to suspend him for at least one game, I thought it would at least be proper to tell him before I told you guys but I didn't feel not like speaking to him quite frankly."
Sources tell UGASports that Ealey's suspended license came as a result of him not showing up in court to answer charges on a previous speeding ticket.
Richt explained that players' licenses are checked on a regular basis.
"One thing we do is in our team meetings at multiple times of the year we'll get copies of everybody's license and check to see if they're up to date and everything like that. If there is a ticket to make us aware of that because we can help those guys remember to go to a court date or pay it, whatever they've got to do. We do stay on top of it," Richt said. "There are some that fall through the cracks at times, but this one didn't. This one didn't. He was well aware, we were well aware, everybody knew. He thought he could take a short little trip, but it got him."
Teammates were surprised when they heard the news.
"We're just going to move on. He'll be back," wide receiver A.J. Green said. "We don't know when, but we'll move on and we'll keep on winning. We'll welcome him when he gets back."
With Ealey out, Caleb King now figures to get the bulk of the carries against Louisiana-Lafayette, but Richt told Carlton Thomas and Fred Munzenmaier to be prepared.
"I told em to get ready. I told Caleb you're probably going to get more carries than you would have got and Carlton Thomas, you're going to probably get more opportunity than you would have got. I said wrap up the ball and pass protect, that's been a little bit of your nemesis. Prove you can pass pro, prove you can hold onto the ball," Richt said. I told Fred Munzenmaier to get greased up. Get ready. Get ready to run the ball, pass protect and secure the ball because you'll probably get your chance, too."
NOTES: Linebackers Akeem Dent (foot) and Richard Samuel (leg) both returned to full practice Friday and are expected to play in the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Also returning to practice were offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones. They are also expected to play.
Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) is expected to return to practice Monday and play in the opener.
Richt still isn't quite sure about wide receiver Logan Gray (ankle), stating he's "probably a few more days away."
Georgia returns to the practice field with an early-morning workout set to begin at 7:40 a.m. Saturday.
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