Georgia junior inside linebacker Natrez Patrick got some very good news on Thursday morning.
Now Patrick likely will not face the consequences of his third suspsension for a marijuana offense, which according to Georgia policy would have resulted in his dismissal from the team.
Schlabach reports that the Barrow County district attorney dismissed the misdemeanor charge against Patrick in a hearing Thursday.
Patrick’s teammate Jayson Stanley, also a junior, was driving the car that was pulled over for speeding the night of the arrest.
On Thursday, the district attorney also dropped Stanley’s DUI charges. The Bulldogs wide receiver agreed to plead guilty to his other charges of misdemeanor possession of marijuana and speeding.
Patrick benefited from the fact that he was in a car that did not belong to him and did not have any marijuana on his person.
“Patrick’s attorney, William Healan III of Winder, told ESPN that officers arrested Patrick after discovering a loose leaf of marijuana in the passenger’s seat of Stanley’s car,” according to Schlabach. “Healan said the leaf was smaller than a penny.”
Here’s a photo of the pot discovered in Georgia LB Natrez Patrick’s seat, which led to his arrest on Dec. 3 pic.twitter.com/STPMn27ULK
— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) December 14, 2017
“When you get into someone’s car, you’re not going to search it to see if there’s marijuana in the car,” Healan is quoted as saying in the ESPN report. “My client didn’t know the marijuana was there. If you’re sitting on a little piece of marijuana that you didn’t know was there, you’re not knowingly in possession of it.”
Further questions arose about the arrest when the bodycam footage from the incident surfaced. In it, Stanley can be seen and heard pleading with officers to put all the blame on him because it was his car. He added that Patrick’s football career would be in jeopardy with another arrest.
After pleading guilty to his marijuana possession charge, Stanley almost certainly will be suspended one game for his first such offense, per school rules. That means he in all likelihood will miss the Rose Bowl. Stanley has not contributed much for the Bulldogs in terms of catching passes, but he has been valuable as a blocker in the run game and on special teams.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has provided little information regarding the status of Patrick since the arrest, offering only that the program was still in the process of gathering information.
Patrick already had been suspended once this season, for four games, after the second marijuana-related arrest of his Georgia career. He returned for the first Auburn game and had fully recaptured his starting role by the time the Bulldogs faced the Tigers again in the SEC Championship Game, in which Patrick recorded 3 tackles.
Smart likely will still discipline Patrick internally, but it would be a surprise for him to not play in the Rose Bowl. Patrick’s attorney feels the same way.
“Obviously, the coaches are going to have make that decision,” Healan said to Schlabach. “But from my perspective as his attorney, he didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t commit a crime. It would be a shame to see someone punished after he was cleared in a court of law.”
Georgia has been off for the last week for exams, but bowl practices start soon. Georgia plays Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl Game in a College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif.