Source: Two UGA starters suspended

Updated: March 30, 2012, 12:19 PM ET
By David Ching and Radi Nabulsi | DawgNation

ATHENS, Ga. -- Bulldogs safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree will be suspended to start the 2012 season, a source at the University of Georgia confirmed to DawgNation Wednesday.

The news follows a report on Georgia's Scout.com site, dawgpost.com, that the two defensive starters had broken unnamed team rules and will miss anywhere from two to four games while serving their suspensions.

Georgia sports information director Claude Felton said via text message late Wednesday that he could not confirm either player had been suspended.

Rambo was suspended for the Bulldogs' opener against Boise State last season for an unnamed rules violation, but still earned All-America honors while leading the SEC with eight interceptions.

Ogletree missed six games last season with a broken foot, but still ranked among the team's breakout stars on defense, leading Georgia in tackles in each of the last five games.

The Bulldogs already were expecting to be without two key defensive pieces early in the season. Cornerback Sanders Commings, who started all 14 games last year, will sit out the first two games -- the home opener against Buffalo and a visit to high-scoring SEC newcomer Missouri the following week -- because of his involvement in a domestic dispute in downtown Athens in February.

Fellow cornerback Branden Smith likely will sit out at least one game after being arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge during spring break.

Just last week, Rambo discussed how defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the other defensive assistants would be able to plan effectively to minimize the damage caused by Commings' and Smith's absences.

"Our coaches, they're brilliant at this stuff," Rambo said. "They'll come up with the right guys for the right positions to make plays and help out the secondary. They see that we don't have that much depth in the secondary, so they'll handle that."

Now his prediction will be put to an even greater test, as the Bulldogs contend with extremely shallow depth in the secondary.

Georgia moved receiver Malcolm Mitchell to cornerback this spring to help alleviate its depth issues there, but the Bulldogs also have few proven options at safety behind Rambo and fellow senior starter Shawn Williams.

The versatile Commings typically would be the Bulldogs' top reserve at safety, while rising sophomores Corey Moore, Quintavius Harrow and Marc Deas and walk-on Connor Norman all have played minor roles outside of special teams.

Without Rambo in the lineup, Georgia might ask Moore to become a useful player a bit earlier than originally expected.

He began preparing for that possibility after the Bulldogs' loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl, when both Williams and Rambo contemplated an early leap to the NFL. Although both players opted to return, Moore was already preparing for a more active role this season -- which seems to be a near-certainty now.

"I had a different mindset last year somewhat," Moore said last week. "I knew I was going to be on special teams, and I had a mindset that I was going to be a special teams player, but this year my mindset is you've got to be ready to play."

Radi Nabulsi | email

Reporter, DawgNation