Georgia’s Natrez Patrick, Roquan Smith cleared in pot investigation
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Georgia's two leading tacklers will be able to play against No. 14 Florida after being cleared in a marijuana investigation.
The school announced Monday that inside linebackers Natrez Patrick and Roquan Smith violated no university policies that would require a suspension.
Athletic director Greg McGarity said the investigation ''included drug testing, which was negative for both student-athletes.''
Police were called to Patrick's dormitory room shortly after an Oct. 15 loss to Vanderbilt. A resident assistant reported the smell of pot, but no drugs were found and neither player was charged.
Patrick is the Bulldogs' leader with 42 tackles, followed by Smith with 39. Both are sophomores.
Patrick served a one-game suspension last year after being arrested for marijuana possession.
''Since November 2015, I have dedicated myself to moving forward,'' he said in a statement released by the school. ''I'm blessed to have done that despite hurdles I've had to clear. This incident was simply another hurdle and I was confident I would successfully clear it. I'll continue to move forward and I'm anxious to play on Saturday.''
Smith said he has followed athletic department rules and was ''happy this situation has been rightfully resolved.''
The decision was good news for first-year coach Kirby Smart, whose team is looking to bounce back from a shocking loss to Vanderbilt that likely ended any hopes of contending in the SEC East.
The Bulldogs (4-3, 2-3) were off last week.
''I'm happy for these two young men,'' Smart said Monday. ''They get to move on to football and not have to deal with the distraction. I will say that on the field both of these two young men have been exemplary leaders, especially for sophomores.''
He added that he has no problem with Georgia's drug policies, which are among the toughest in the SEC. A football player who violates the marijuana provisions faces a one-game suspension for the first offense, and repeat offenders are subject to a four-game ban.
''I'm a team player when it comes to policy,'' Smart said. ''Do I think that we live in a society that's a little bit different now than it was back whenever? Sure, I do. But I also believe in what we have, and we know and accept the rules that we've been charged with.''