May 9, 2009

After suspensions, what's next?

Orson Charles said he's more than ready to take up any slack Georgia might need now that fellow tight end Bruce Figgins has been suspended for the first six games of 2009.

In a telephone interview Saturday night, the Tampa, Fla., native said he's already been hard at work getting ready for this fall.

But the fact that Figgins won't be available until the Oct. 17 against Vanderbilt will not heighten the expectations for Charles that he wasn't always placing on himself.

"I was already doing what I could to get ready to take the next step because I'm tried of us losing to Florida," the incoming freshman said.

Saturday, Georgia officials confirmed what UGASports first reported Wednesday that Figgins was being suspended for six games and defensive end Justin Houston two for violating team rules. Head coach Mark Richt also confirmed that Tony Wilson violated team rules, but was not being suspended because he was in the process of being medically disqualified due to an injured ankle which has been slow to heal.

Although Richt did not say what the violations were for, ESPN.com cited a Georgia "staff member" that the dismissals were for a failed drug tests. In Figgins' case, the violation would have been his second, thus the six-game suspension in accordance with UGA Athletic Association rules.

The question now, is what's next?

With Figgins gone for half the year, the onus at tight end will now fall on the collective shoulders of Aron White, along with Charles and fellow freshman Arthur Lynch. Redshirt freshman Bryce Ros and walk-on Derek Rich could also work their way into the picture.

Charles, who is working with renowned personal trainer Jodie Johnson, admitted he was upset when learned Saturday's news.

"I was definitely kind of mad at what happened," Charles said. "We already had a good relationship and when I've gone down there we talked a lot about getting ready to take over. He was telling me about the injuries he battled through, that he was hungry and he wanted me to come in hungry and get after it. Hopefully, after his six-game suspension is over, he'll come back ready to go."

Figgins might have other ideas.

UGASports has learned that the Columbus native, who underwent off-season shoulder surgery, is considering taking a redshirt to get completely healed.

Figgins could not be reached for comment.

Replacing Houston for two games against Oklahoma State and South Carolina could prove more troublesome.

The Statesboro native enjoyed an outstanding spring for the Bulldogs, collecting three sacks in the G-Day Game, and had another scrimmage which he collected a pair of sacks and returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdowns.

If the season started tomorrow, Georgia would be in a world of proverbial hurt.

Converted offensive lineman Kiante Tripp is currently the only healthy scholarship player at defensive end, although both Roderick Battle and Demarcus Dobbs (fifth metacarpal fracture) are expected to soon be cleared and according to Richt will be ready for the start of fall camp.

The Bulldogs also have their fingers crossed that redshirt sophomore Neland Ball and redshirt freshman Cornelius Washington will be sufficiently healed, and that redshirt freshman Jeremy Longo (labrum) won't be too far behind.

Freshman Montez Robinson will also get an extended look, while Sam linebackers Marcus Washington and Darryl Gamble might get more looks at rush end than just when in Georgia is in its dime package.

The loss of Wilson doesn't help, either.

Although the Daytona Beach native wasn't expected to challenge for a starting job, it was hoped he would provide quality depth, particularly since Kris Durham will redshirt after tearing his labrum midway through spring drills.

Wilson's absence now leaves the Bulldogs with just six scholarship receivers, a list that's made up of A.J. Green, Mike Moore, Israel Troupe and Tavarres King, along with incoming freshman Rantavious Wooten and Marlon Brown.

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