August 10, 2011

'Never stressed out'

Jarvis Jones said he never doubted for a moment that he wouldn't eventually be cleared by the NCAA and allowed to play in Georgia's Sept. 3 opener against Boise State.

"I knew I didn't do anything. I knew the situation was good from the get-go," Jones said in a sit-down with reporters Wednesday. "It was just some business some people had to go through and investigate what they had to and they handled it real well."

A sophomore from Columbus, Jones was put under the NCAA microscope following allegations that he received improper benefits following an investigation by the Columbus police department surrounding alleged corruption within the city's parks and recreation department.

Allegations claimed that an administrator within the parks and recreation paid for four flights for Jones to and from Los Angeles, but the NCAA agreed with Georgia's findings that the sophomore linebacker had a pre-existing relationship and no wrong doing was found.

"If you read the report, it will tell you that the people who have been involved (with the investigation) have been so since I was a young age," said Jones, who estimated he was 11 or 12 at the time. "It had been quite a while. Those people still mentor me and they're still in my family."

Jones said he was given the news by UGA compliance officer Eric Baumgartner Tuesday morning.

"I think I had the full team's support, compliance and everybody," Jones said. "It's out of the way now so I'm looking forward to moving on and get ready for this first game."

Jones apparently did a very good job of keeping the news under wraps from his teammates. When asked for response, defensive end Abry Jones laughed that he had not gotten the official word.

Head coach Mark Richt got to let the defensive staff in on the news.

"I got tell everyone in the staff room about the news and there was a pretty good cheer," Richt said. "The coaches were pretty excited about it."

With good reason.

With Jones now officially cleared of any wrongdoing by the NCAA, the Bulldogs' defensive brain trust can breathe the proverbial sigh of relief.

Actually, they can do so on several fronts.

First is the fact that when Georgia opens its season in the Georgia Dome Sept. 3 against Boise State, the Bulldogs will do so knowing they'll have what most expect to be one of their biggest defensive playmakers against the offensive-minded Broncos.

Second - and no offense to anyone - barring any kind of injury, the Bulldogs won't have to fret over whom might replace Jones at the starting Sam spot.

Not that there wouldn't be candidates.

According to Richt, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham pegged Chase Vasser as the top backup to Jones with true freshman Ray Drew getting some valuable work at Will while starter Cornelius Washington continues to recover from his hamstring issue.

There's more.

Sophomore T.J. Stripling (who says he is 228 pounds) reports no big issues from the torn patella he suffered against Colorado last year in Boulder, and speculates he'll get a chance for game reps, especially on passing downs.

Reuben Faloughi and freshman Ramik Wilson - who had two sacks each in Wednesday's scrimmage - are also in the mix for playing time.

Jones did his part as well.

The Southern Cal transfer chipped in with three sacks during the nearly two-hour scrimmage, perhaps giving Bulldog fans a glimpse of what they can expect this fall.

"My main thing is every time I step on the field is to go hard and try to make myself better," Jones said. "That's what we did (today). We just went out and had fun and that's what I did today."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.