SAVANNAH — Less than seven months ago, Natrez Patrick and Chauncey Rivers were in the same car, and in the same trouble. Their two lives subsequently took very different turns.
Patrick enters the summer as one of Georgia’s projected starting inside linebackers, after starting the final two games of last season. His future seems extremely bright. Rivers is looking for a new team and trying to sort through more legal trouble. His future is uncertain, to put it lightly.
Last week Rivers was dismissed from the Georgia football team after his third marijuana-related arrest in less than seven months. The first arrest came with Patrick, when the two were both charged with possession of pot in their car. Since then Patrick has done everything, on and off the field, to make that look like an isolated incident.
“Natrez has done a good job (with) everything we have asked him to do,” said head coach Kirby Smart, who was hired last December, after Patrick’s arrest. “He knows that he had to make some changes in his life and he had to make some better decisions.
“I will say that the Chauncey situation has been tough on Natrez, because they were close friends, and he saw what Chauncey has gone through since the two of them went through it together. And he realizes that it’s a little bit of a shock factor — Chauncey’s not with us anymore. And Natrez, if he had continued to make bad decisions, he might be in the same boat. He’s made better decisions and he’s got to continue to do that.”
Rivers, a defensive end, has not been able to do that, and his Georgia career ended last week. Smart had little choice — UGA’s drug policy calls for scholarship revocation after a third violation — but he did say that Rivers would not be kicked to the curb.
“I hate it for Chauncey, first and foremost,” Smart said. “He was trying to do the right things. We were providing him help, and we’re going to continue to do that, provide him assistance. We’re going to continue to care for Chauncey. He’s just going to have to play somewhere else.”