Georgia Team News

Kirby Smart provides updates on Mecole Hardman, Georgia’s new injury policy

Mecole Hardman Georgia spring practice
John Paul Van Wert/Georgia athletics

ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia coach Kirby Smart said sophomore Mecole Hardman will play wide receiver and be used as a return man in the Bulldogs’ spring game Saturday.

Hardman, a former five-star recruit who was considered one of the nation’s top 20 prospects overall in the 2015 signing class, was a cornerback last season, but has worked the majority of the spring as a slot wide receiver.

Hardman is on the Red team for Saturday’s game, meaning he likely will play on the second-team offense.

Meanwhile, Smart said upset parents were the impetus for the school’s new injury policy; in short, the policy is the media cannot report on a player’s injury until Smart addresses it himself.

Smart was upset over the reporting of freshman cornerback Deangelo Gibbs having to leave practice last Tuesday with a shoulder injury. A few days later, the new injury policy was released and Smart says he believes it is in the best interest of his team.

“Some of the parents got upset with the way that we handled the injury,” Smart said. “It was really more our fault for not putting the policy in place to not allow comments on injuries from an injury that happens while the media is viewing (practice). That’s important to keep that part safe for them (the players).”

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Smart also said he does not want the reporting of injuries to impact games this fall.

“It’s really a big disadvantage in the season for us that our opponents know every kid that is injured, out or not practicing,” Smart said. “If that information gets out to our opponent, then it becomes a detriment to the team. I’m trying to protect the team with that information.”

There is no set injury policy in the SEC or the NCAA. There is an NFL injury policy in that teams must submit injury reports to the league office on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Would Smart like a rule of that nature in college football?

“I think if everybody did it, then it would be great,” Smart said. “To say I’m in favor of it or against it? I’m not either way. I just think that obviously it puts everyone in the same position. I want to know the same thing about whoever we’re playing, just like they want to know about us. That’s why they do it in the NFL. They do it that way because it’s a little more parity and even across the board.”

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To that end, Smart said it’s still unknown if sophomore wide receiver Riley Ridley will be able to play in the spring game. He is recovering from ankle surgery after he was injured during Liberty Bowl practice.

Smart also says the hope is that Gibbs and sophomore tight end Isaac Nauta are able to play Saturday; both are dealing with shoulder injuries.

Senior tight end Jeb Blazevich and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ben Cleveland are going to be game-time decisions. Blazevich hurt his knee in last Saturday’s scrimmage, while Cleveland’s injury has not been disclosed.

(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)

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