Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Georgia starters return from bans
By David Ching DawgNation
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings and outside linebacker Chase Vasser have been reinstated from their two-game suspensions and will be back in the rotation Saturday against Florida Atlantic.
Commings had a tough time watching last weekend's game against Missouri from home, but the senior said the humiliation he dealt with in the eight months since his offseason arrest was more difficult to endure.
Georgia coach Mark Richt suspended Commings after he was arrested in January on simple battery and domestic violence charges after a dispute with his girlfriend.
"That was the biggest punishment -- what I had to go through off the field and what I put my family through and the University of Georgia, all that," Commings said Tuesday, speaking to reporters for the first time since his arrest. "Missing the games, that was probably the easiest part of the punishment."
Commings, who started all 14 games last season, and Chase Vasser, a projected starter who was suspended after an offseason DUI arrest, should bolster an already strong defense that shut down Missouri for the majority of the second half in Saturday's 41-20 victory.
Commings has been listed behind Malcolm Mitchell at cornerback on the depth chart released Tuesday and also will contribute at safety. Vasser is listed as Ramik Wilson's backup.
"You only get so much work once you get into the game planning of the opponents," Richt said. "You have to rep the guys who are going to play, so he hasn't had a whole lot of reps. So we'll see what kind of rust there is, but he'll get a lot of reps this week."
The Bulldogs could still be without two other defensive starters -- All-American safety Bacarri Rambo and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, who also have missed the first two games. Richt and his coaches have not yet revealed the length of their suspensions.
Commings said he was surprised when Richt handed him a two-game suspension after learning the facts of his case and appealed in hopes of having the penalty reduced. Commings said he appealed too late, and that Georgia opted not to reinstate him last week in part because of how it might be perceived.
"There was a chance, but we didn't want it to seem like I was coming back just so we'd win," Commings said.
Richt said the punishment was warranted.
"After listening to everything and hearing everything, I felt like he did deserve to stay on the team," Richt said. "He needed to be disciplined for what he did. The amount of time that he was suspended was appropriate."
Commings said he never was concerned that Richt would dismiss him from the team, as he did with a number of other players who broke the law or violated team rules since the end of last season.
Commings pleaded guilty to lesser charges of simple battery and disorderly conduct in March instead of the original domestic violence charge and was sentenced to 12 months of probation.
"I wasn't worried because I've stayed out of trouble since I've been here," Commings said. "The coaches know the story behind what happened, so I wasn't really worried."