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Etienne’s Arrest Casts a Familiar Cloud Over Spring Ball

Etienne's Arrest

Georgia wrapped up its second week of Spring ball this week. After looking at the running back and wide receiver rooms, we planned on exploring the defensive side of the ball this week. Instead, running back Trevor Etienne was arrested and booked into the Athens-Clarke County jail at 4:35 a.m. Sunday. Etienne transferred from Florida in January and is an upgrade to Georgia’s running back room. In 2024, he is expected to be RB1. The arrest is embarrassing for the program but has become commonplace in Athens.

Etienne’s Arrest Details

Mama had a popular phrase, “nothing good happens after midnight.” Georgia might consider putting this up in the football locker room and practice facilities. The Athens-Clarke County jail listed four charges against Etienne on its website.

  • DUI/alcohol/less safe
  • Reckless driving
  • Failure to maintain lane/improper driving on the road
  • Affixing materials that reduce the visibility of windows/windshield

Georgia released an official statement on Sunday regarding the arrest. Unfortunately, it was from executive associate athletic director Steven Drummond, not Kirby Smart. “We are aware of the charges and are currently in the process of gathering additional information. This is a pending legal matter, and we will not have further comments at this time.” Smart is not likely to speak to the media until Tuesday after practice.

The university has a one-game suspension policy for DUI arrests. The length and duration can be reviewed and extended at the football staff’s and athletic administration’s discretion. Georgia opens the 2024 season in Atlanta at Mercedes Bendz Stadium against Clemson. Etienne’s arrest highlights a familiar offseason black-eye for Smart and Georgia.

A Reckless and Tragic Problem

Speeding and reckless driving during the offseason have become common issues for Georgia’s football program. This was tragically highlighted last year when Devin Willock and team staffer Chandler LeCroy lost their lives in a car crash during the parade night, abruptly ending Georgia’s consecutive national championship celebrations. The crash occurred when their Ford Expedition failed to navigate a left curve, hitting a curb and veering off Barnett Shoals Road. The vehicle then collided with two poles, two trees, and another car before ultimately stopping against an apartment building, as outlined in the crash report from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

Having a teammate and staffer die can rock any program. One would think it would also alter behavior, but not so much for Georgia. At least 14 Georgia players were either arrested or ticketed for speeding and/or reckless driving after the crash. Despite the significant problems, Smart and Georgia have not imposed any noticeable significant penalties. Discipline has been managed internally without publicly indicating team suspensions or dismissals. While statements have been issued, the Bulldogs appear to treat these incidents as minor issues.

Better Never Rests?

If things are going to change in Athens, it has to come from the top. Smart demands excellence on the field. In July, Smart was asked about speeding and reckless driving at SEC Media Days. His response sounded more like Bud Kilmer than a coach trying to change behavior.

“I’m disappointed anytime we have traffic incidents. It’s very evident when you look at it we’ve had traffic citations and incidents throughout the history of being at the University of Georgia. We actually don’t have more now than we’ve had in the past. What concerns me most is our players’ safety, and driving at high speeds is unsafe. We don’t want that to happen. We’re going to do all we can to take that out and make sure that’s eradicated. “But I’m also smart enough to understand and know that 18- to 20-year-olds is when this happens. It’s when it happened to me as a student-athlete.”

Better Never Rests is the standard Georgia adopted and has been posted all over social media over the last year. Etienne’s arrest raises the question (or maybe provides the answer) of whether that standard is being held off the field.


Etienne's Arrest
Photo courtesy: Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK


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