Former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley said RB Isaiah Crowell getting arrested and kicked off the team may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, according to a newspaper report.
Crowell, a rising sophomore and former five-star recruit who was the Bulldogs' leading rusher last season, was dismissed by head coach Mark Richt after Crowell was arrested on felony weapons charges. Crowell has since transferred to Alabama State, a Football Championship Subdivision-level program in Montgomery, Ala., and started classes Monday. Crowell will be eligible to play this season, instead of sitting out the required year if he transferred to another Football Bowl Subdivision school.
"I don't want to put any pressure on them, but losing that guy may have been the best thing to happen to them," Dooley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It was a bad apple-type thing, if you ask me."
Dooley, who coached the Bulldogs to six SEC championships and a national title in 25 seasons, told the newspaper the negative effects as far as being a troublemaker and a distraction far outweighed any skills Crowell brought to the field.
"That kind of thing will unite a team many times," Dooley told the AJC. "Historically, when things like this have happened in the past, they tend to have a unifying effect on teams. They go on to have an even better season than they were predicted to have."
Crowell, 19, was arrested June 29 and charged with a felony count of possessing a weapon in a school zone, a felony count of an altered identification mark and a misdemeanor count of possession/carrying a concealed weapon.
According to a police report, the serial number on a 9 mm Luger pistol found under the driver's seat had been scratched off, but Crowell denied knowing a gun was there, saying other people drive his car.
Police said the altered ID mark charge stems from the tampered serial number.
Crowell could face a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of two to 10 years if found guilty of weapons possession in a school zone, while a guilty verdict for criminal use of an article with an altered ID mark carries a sentence of one to five years.
Crowell, ranked as the country's No. 1 running back and No. 4 prospect by ESPN Recruiting in 2011, had a rocky first season with the Bulldogs. He ran 185 times for 850 yards with five touchdowns as a freshman but was dogged by disciplinary problems throughout the previous summer.