ATHENS, Ga. – Another Georgia football player has gotten into trouble, and this time it's one of the team's top running backs.
Tailback Washaun Ealey, who led the Bulldogs in rushing a year ago and expected to share carries this season with Caleb King, was suspended for at least one game after being arrested early Friday.
Ealey was charged with hit and run and driving on a suspended license. Coach Mark Richt said the sophomore definitely won't play when the No. 23 Bulldogs open the season Sept. 4 against Louisiana-Lafayette and left open the possibility of adding more games to the suspension.
"I'm not happy with it. It's foolish. He knew better," Richt said. "But no one thinks it's going to happen to him. He knew his license was suspended and we knew his license was suspended. As a matter of fact, we spend a lot of hours checking on every single player to make sure their licenses are up to date and if they're not, making them aware of that."
University police chief Jimmy Williamson said Ealey was driving his roommate's Chevrolet Impala when he hit a parked truck in a school parking deck at 3:19 a.m. on Friday. Williamson said alcohol was not involved.
Ealey was released from the Clarke County Jail after posting bond of $4,800.
"He probably thought this short little trip wouldn't be a big deal, but it turned out to be a real big deal," Richt said. "You can't roll the dice. Sooner or later, you're going to lose."
Ealey is the eighth Georgia player to be arrested this year.
"It definitely tarnishes our image, but I don't think we have any bad seeds on this team," tight end Aron White said. "We've got guys who have made silly mistakes for the most part and did things they knew better. I don't think we have any guys who are bad to the core or do things intentionally to hurt people.'
University employees told Ealey to stay at the scene until police arrived, but he left. No one was reported hurt. Ealey emerged in the second half of the 2009 season to lead the Bulldogs with 717 yards rushing. He scored three touchdowns.
Now, King will likely get the bulk of the carries against Louisiana-Lafayette, with Carlton Thomas moving up to the second string.
"It's something we don't need, but things happen," Thomas said. "This situation was wrong time, wrong place. It's something we've got to build off as a team. It will probably motivate us to work even harder to beat this image we're putting ourselves in. It's all water under the bridge if you win games."
Georgia's image has certainly taken a beating during this offseason.
Sophomore tailback Dontavius Jackson announced plans to transfer from Georgia after he was charged last month with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and other offenses. Richt suspended Jackson for a minimum of six games before he left school.
Receiver Tavarres King was charged with underaged possession of alcohol and was suspended one game by Richt last month.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was dismissed from the team in April before pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery in May. He was arrested March 7 in Lowndes County and charged with underage consumption and possession of alcohol, possessing fake identification and disorderly conduct-obstruction.
Mettenberger faced a one-game suspension from Richt for the alcohol-related charges before the sexual battery charges led to his dismissal.
Two other players were kicked off the team: linebacker Montez Robinson, who was charged with simple battery/family violence; and backup punter Trent Dittmer, who was charged with public intoxication.
Also, offensive lineman Josh Parrish, who is not on scholarship, was charged with underage possession of alcohol and possession of false identification. Backup cornerback Jordan Love was charged with obstruction for not providing his full name to police.
Richt said the length of Ealey's suspension will be determined by how he handles his punishment. He didn't practice with the team Friday, spending his time doing extra running.
"I've got some internal things for him to handle and if he handles them the way he should and behaves between now and the next one, he'll have a pretty good chance of playing," Richt said. "But he's got to show me that he's ready to go back and not only play, but practice with the team."
Richt is confident the Bulldogs will overcome all their off-the-field problems.
"This team is very resilient and very tough mentally," the coach said. "I guarantee the guys that are out there that show up will play their tails off. There's a whole bunch of them that are doing everything right and are preparing for a tremendous opportunity."