Georgia's Kirby Smart 'first to admit' speeding issues continue

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday that he hasn't yet solved the speeding issue that has plagued his team but that he is "constantly looking and searching" for ways to address it.

Last week, freshman outside linebacker Samuel M'Pemba was ticketed for driving 88 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone, according to records from the Oconee County Sheriff's Office. His speeding citation occurred about an hour before Bulldogs receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint made an appearance in court in Athens and pleaded guilty to driving 90 mph in a 45 mph zone.

M'Pemba's citation was at least the 11th traffic-related moving violation involving Georgia football players and their cars since Jan. 15, when offensive lineman Devin Willock and football staff member Chandler LeCroy were killed in a wreck in which police allege LeCroy's SUV was racing a car being driving by former Bulldogs defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Police said LeCroy's SUV was traveling more than 100 mph when it left the road and slammed into power poles and trees.

LeCroy had a blood alcohol concentration of .197% at the time of the crash, police said a toxicology report showed. The legal limit in Georgia is .08.

"I'll be the first to admit we haven't solved that issue or problem," Smart told reporters during a news conference. "I don't honestly know that anybody has, but certainly for us, it's important to acknowledge it first. We've had a lot of intervention in terms of talking and visiting, and discipline measures have been implemented in terms of education. We'll continue to do that."

In an interview with ESPN in March, Smart said he had enlisted the help of officers from Athens-Clarke County Police, University of Georgia Police and the Georgia State Patrol in educating his players about the dangers of racing and driving fast.

"It's one of the things that we want to manage, but it is a tough situation to manage when you have 18- to 22-year-old men [and] a lot of them are driving for the first time," Smart said. "You know, every fall we have 25 new guys. We've averaged five guys that come here at 18 years old with no driver's license, and we continue to work on that. I don't have the exact answer. I wish I did, but we continue to work at it.

"I'm one of those that believes abuse brings control, and we'll continue to educate our players the best we can and try to do a better job with it."

Smart said his program has attempted to educate players at a "deeper level" about the cars some of them are driving. M'Pemba was driving a 2020 Dodge Durango when he was stopped by police. Rosemy-Jacksaint was driving a Dodge Charger when he was "weaving through traffic while going at a high rate of speed," according to police.

Carter was driving a 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk when police alleged he was racing LeCroy's SUV. Carter, a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in April's NFL draft, pleaded no contest on March 16 to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation, a $1,000 fine and 80 hours of community service and will attend a state-approved defensive driving course.

"NIL has given some of our players -- and players in general -- the capacity to get probably faster [cars]," Smart said. "It's not necessarily just the volume of the speeding tickets, it's the speed of the speeding tickets. And that's a bigger concern to me -- the speed of the speeding tickets. Because high speeds, according to the Georgia State Patrol, which talked to our team, is where you get bigger accidents. That's the biggest concern we have in regard to that."

Smart said players have been disciplined internally for speeding citations. When players were returning to campus after the July Fourth holiday, coaches texted them, urging them to get back safely and be careful.

"I wish that we could prevent speeding issues and learn from a horrific and tragic event," Smart said. "I'm still wrestling with that, and we talk about it as a staff and all the things we can do. We've got issues with traffic citations and speeding issues that we have to improve on. We have to get better at those, and I'm constantly looking and searching for that."