Georgia Bulldogs LB Natrez Patrick still on team, but CFP status up in air


ATHENS, Georgia — Georgia linebacker Natrez Patrick remains part of the team, but his status for the College Football Playoff remains in question after he reportedly tested positive for marijuana.

He was required to be tested as part of his probation for an earlier marijuana arrest.

Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Monday that Patrick is practicing with the No. 3 Bulldogs as they prepare to play No. 2 Oklahoma in a CFP semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual on New Year’s Day.

Patrick and reserve receiver Jayson Stanley were arrested only hours after the Bulldogs upset No. 2 Auburn 28-7 in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

“Under university and athletic association policies, both those guys remain on the team and eligible to practice,” Smart said. “We’re following our policy without exceptions.”

Patrick and Stanley were returning to Atlanta from Athens when a Barrow County sheriff’s deputy stopped the car for speeding on Georgia Highway 316. Stanley was driving. According to people familiar with the arrest, the officer smelled marijuana emanating from the car.

Patrick, who is Georgia’s sixth-leading tackler with 35 stops, was set to rejoin the team after prosecutors in Barrow County dropped a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession last week.

The district attorney’s office also dropped DUI charges against Stanley during a hearing Thursday at Barrow County Probate Court. Stanley agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and speeding, his attorney, Kevin Christopher of Jefferson, Georgia, told ESPN.

But on Friday night, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Patrick had tested positive for marijuana in a drug test administered to him by probation officials in Athens-Clarke County, which was triggered by his arrest in Barrow County. He faces a Jan. 11 court hearing in Athens for the alleged probation violation.

“The Athens-Clarke County situation is a separate matter, and we’ll address that once it’s resolved,” Smart said.

The Barrow County incident was Patrick’s third drug-related incident, which might have led to his dismissal from the team under Georgia Athletics Association policies. He was arrested in October on misdemeanor marijuana charges and served a four-game suspension. He was also arrested on the same charges as a freshman in 2015 and was suspended one game.

In a statement released to ESPN on Monday, Patrick’s attorney, William Healan III of Winder, said Patrick passed a drug test administered to him by UGA officials shortly after he was released from the Barrow County jail on Dec. 3.

“Probation records are confidential under Georgia law, and I will not address specific allegations,” Healan said. “There will be a hearing in January, during which any issues will be addressed, if we are not able to reach a negotiated resolution beforehand.

“A probation violation is not a violation of the UGA Athletic Association Substance Abuse Policy.”

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