Georgia's Bacarri Rambo failed a drug test after he inadvertently ate marijuana-laced brownies on a spring break trip to Florida, his high school coach said Thursday. The All-American safety faces a four-game suspension at the start of next season.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt wouldn't discuss the status of Rambo and another key defensive player, Alec Ogletree, who is reported to be facing a suspension from two to four games for violating team rules.
Alan Ingram, Rambo's coach at Seminole County High School in Donalsonville, Ga., said the player told him the positive test occurred after he got back from a trip to Panama City, Fla., with two friends over the recent break. ESPN.com initially reported the failed drug test.
“Two of `em came back to the room, but the other kid got off with some other folks and came in later,” Ingram told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Bacarri was the first one up the next morning, went to the refrigerator and got a glass of milk, then saw a package on the counter with brownies in it. He ate two of the brownies and almost immediately started feeling funny. He got high off it. Then the other guy came in and told him, `Hey, those aren't yours. I got them last night.“’
Rambo was suspended from the season opener last season against Boise State for what Ingram said was another inadvertent brush with marijuana. The hard-hitting safety went on to have a stellar season for the Bulldogs, leading the SEC with eight interceptions and claiming a spot on the Associated Press All-America team.
After considering whether to enter the NFL draft, he decided to return to Georgia for his senior year.
Now, he is likely to miss at significant amount of games, though Ingram said the player met with athletic director Greg McGarity and was encouraged to appeal the suspension to school officials so he could at least tell his side of the story.
“He's devastated about it,” Ingram said. “He understood what's at stake. He chose to come back to Georgia next year instead of entering the draft. He understands that he's a role model here. He spoke to me about all the kids in Seminole County and in the state of Georgia who look up to athletes. He's embarrassed about it and just tore up about it.”
Richt wouldn't confirm or deny any suspensions after the team's regular spring practice on Thursday.
“We have our guidelines and our policies and certain things we have to do when we are taking care of business,” the coach said. “Do you want to talk about football?”
This has been a difficult offseason for Georgia, which was riding high after reaching the Southeastern Conference championship game and losing only one rising senior to the NFL draft. Starting cornerback Sanders Commings was suspended for the first two games after he was charged in a domestic dispute. The other starting corner, Branden Smith, is facing at least a one-game suspension for his arrest on marijuana possession charges.
“I'll just say I am not thrilled when things like that happen,” Richt said.
Ogletree, who is heading into his junior season, broke his foot in the 2011 opener and missed the next six games. He returned to anchor the 3-4 defense, making 52 tackles including three sacks and 7.5 stops behind the line. He also had six hits on the quarterback and forced two fumbles.
According to Ingram, Rambo was suspended last season after police stopped his vehicle while he was returning to Seminole County and officers discovered marijuana in the purse of a woman who was riding with him.
Rambo wasn't charged but his high school coach advised him to tell Richt about the stop when he got back to Athens. That led to the one-game suspension.
This time, Ingram told his former player to take his chances with a possible drug test.
“We actually talked about it and it sounded if he turned himself in, he would get suspended anyway,” Ingram said. “I told him this time to roll the dice – and he got pulled” for a random test.
Even though both stories sound far-fetched, Ingram said he has faith that Rambo is telling the truth.
“I'm not stupid,” the coach said. “But I had him for four years and he never told me a lie. He was never late for a team meeting, never late for a team practice. When he spoke, kids listened. He has the utmost character, discipline and morals.
“That's the story he gave me – and I believe it.”