For the first time since his name was mentioned as one of the players who received improper benefits from a jailed Miami booster, Hurricanes QB Jacory Harris spoke to the media Saturday.
ATHENS -- The 19th-ranked Georgia football team had its final Saturday practice of the preseason, working out for two hours on the Woodruff Practice Fields.
On Friday, Richt surprised the Bulldogs by organizing a practice in the Georgia Dome, the site of next Saturday's season opener against Boise State. Richt also allowed the players to suit up in the Nike Pro Combat uniforms that they will wear against the Broncos.
"The majority of our players had not been in the Dome, so we wanted to get them in there and get a little taste of it," Richt said. "We let them put on the uniforms and get it out of their systems a little bit. I figured the first time they put them on they'd be primping a little bit, so we got that out of the way. Now we don't have to worry about them being in awe of the Dome and looking in the mirror at the new uniforms."
Richt was then asked if Friday's trip to Atlanta would especially help the Georgia freshmen.
His response? Heck yeah.
"You just have to experience it, but that was two of the elements of outside distractions," Richt said. "The stands weren't full and it wasn't live, but even when I walked in, I kind of got a feel for what it's going to be like in a week. Until you experience it, it's difficult and you can't really explain it to them."
Richt said cornerback Branden Smith missed Saturday's game practice with a foot injury, but added, "We don't think it's serious. Day-by-day is the best way to describe it."
Richt also said injured nose Jonathan Jenkins "was still not ready; we're hoping Monday," and that receiver Marlon Brown and tailback Ken Malcome did not practice.
Georgia and Boise State will open the season on Saturday in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in the Georgia Dome. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. and will be televised nationally by ESPN.
FSU ENDS CAMP HEALTHY: Sixth-ranked Florida State looks like it will be near full strength for its opener next weekend against Louisiana-Monroe.
For the first time this summer, coach Jimbo Fisher had his offensive line starters intact at Saturday's practice. Offensive tackles Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders and guard David Spurlock have battled injury problems. The trio of seniors has seen only limited contact during the preseason workouts.
Junior tailback Chris Thompson has been bothered all camp with a bad back. Tight end Nick O'Leary also returned to practice Saturday after missing several days. O'Leary is among a handful of true freshmen in Florida State's highly touted recruiting class expected to see significant playing time this season. Thompson is a 180-pound speedster and led the Seminoles in rushing last season with 845 yards.
UM'S HARRIS SAYS HE EXPECTS TO PLAY IN HURRICANES' OPENER: Seeming upbeat as usual, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris did not hesitate when asked about the fast-approaching start of the Hurricanes' season.
"I expect to play," Harris said. "Yes, sir."
The NCAA will decide soon if that becomes reality.
Harris and many other Miami players implicated by the extra-benefits scandal that threatens to negatively impact the program for years spoke out for the first time Saturday about the mess. None provided any specifics about the claims that former booster and imprisoned Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro made to Yahoo Sports, alleging that he provided extra benefits to Hurricane players and recruits from 2002-10.
But many, like Harris, expressed some sense of optimism that they may be cleared in time to play Sept. 5, when Miami opens at Maryland.
-- "These people, they know what to do," defensive lineman Marcus Forston said.
-- "I'm very hopeful," receiver Travis Benjamin said.
-- "We know we're all we've got right now, this team," safety Ray Ray Armstrong said.
They are among 12 current players known to be under investigation by the university, and presumably the NCAA, for their involvement with Shapiro. A person with knowledge of the process has told The Associated Press that eight players -- Harris, Sean Spence and Benjamin among them -- have been declared ineligible by the university, which then turned the matter over to the NCAA and asked that a reinstatement process be expedited.
The school has confirmed that they asked the NCAA for rulings on Thursday. The school has not confirmed how many players are ineligible, nor any of the names involved. On Saturday, Miami coach Al Golden -- while not discussing any players specifically -- seemed to suggest much of the university's investigation revolves around incidents that happened sometime around 2008.
Besides Harris, Forston, Spence, Benjamin and Armstrong, the other current players who were named by Shapiro in the Yahoo Sports article were Vaughn Telemaque, Aldarius Johnson, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, Dyron Dye and JoJo Nicholas.
Independent of the scandal, this Miami camp began with one giant question: Would Harris or Stephen Morris play quarterback?
As of Saturday, if that's been decided, no one is letting the secret out.
Both played well at times last year, and Golden has said even during this camp that the two are alternating with the first-string. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said Saturday that even he doesn't yet know who will start.
"I have no idea what coach Golden and his staff are going to be doing in terms of the depth chart," Morris said.
Added Harris: "We're just taking it day-by-day, going out there every day, giving it our all, having fun. Whatever the depth chart says come whenever we have to release it, I think by Tuesday, then that's what it is and that's what's going into Maryland."
Harris' teammates said Saturday they're impressed with the way he's handled the cloud hanging over his senior season.
"Jacory's Jacory," Morris said. "He's a happy guy all the time. Always smiling, always got a joke to say. He's just a great guy. ... All the situations that's going outside of this program, he's putting that behind him and is just focusing on football, focusing on this team."
Harris entertained questions for much of the allotted half-hour at the team's media day Saturday, doing so with typically the largest crowd of reporters gathered around him. He cracked a few one-liners, made fun of some teammates as they walked past, things he would have done under typical circumstances.
If he's frightened for his future, it wasn't showing.
"It's just a little bump in the road," Harris said. "It's something that we've got to get through. Whatever happens happens. At the end of the day, you've still got to weather the storm and fight through it. That's pretty much what we're doing as a team. We're going to fight through it and we're going to come out on top."