UGA football players hold meeting ‘owning what we’ve done’ after turbulent off-season

It's been a tough offseason for the defending national college football champions.
Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 8:50 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Georgia football players recently held an impromptu meeting to address a series of off-the-field issues that have plagued the program this offseason.

“A lot of guys spoke out to make sure that we got a handle on things,” said Sedrick Van Pran, UGA offensive lineman and team captain.

Van Pran said the meeting was informally organized where a handful of players spoke out.

“It was a lot of guys who came together and spoke about the importance of one, owning what we’ve done - owning some of the mistakes that we’ve made. But also trying to move forward and understand and say, hey, that’s in the past. Let’s try and be better,” said Van Pran, in an interview Tuesday at SEC Media Days in Nashville.

Head Coach Kirby Smart said he briefly took part in the meeting.

“I might have been. I might have been in the meeting and left,” said Smart.

“But I think it’s a lot more important that players have meetings on their own than initiate by me just because it means more when they do it,” Smart said.

Since winning the National Championship in January, the Bulldogs’ offseason has been marred by controversy.

Most notably, football player Devin Willock and staff member Chandler LeCroy died in a car crash the night of the Championship parade.

LeCroy’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit as she was traveling 104 miles per hour just before the crash, according to police records.

Former Bulldog Jalen Carter pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing connected to that January 15 crash.

And most recently, in early July, freshman Samuel M’Pemba became the fifth Bulldog to be cited for a speeding-related incident this offseason.

M’Pemba was going 88 mph in a 55 mph zone, according to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

On Tuesday, in front of the national media, Coach Smart was asked about the series of speed-related incidents involving his players.

“What concerns me most is the safety of our players. And when you drive at high speeds, it’s unsafe. And we don’t want that to happen. We’re going to do all we can to take that out and make sure it’s eradicated,” said Coach Smart.

Van Pran said upperclassmen and underclassmen all spoke up during this recent meeting.

“A part of me felt like we were letting the university down a little bit. And some of the guys that played before and the people that have gone to the University of Georgia before, so just making sure we understand that hey we have a responsibility whether you like it or not to make sure you’re respecting that G,” said Van Pran, referring to the ‘G’ on Georgia’s helmets.