HOOVER, Ala. - Jarvis Jones remembers the first word that popped into his head upon learning that former teammate Isaiah Crowell had been arrested on gun charges.
"It was devastating. Isaiah is like my little brother," Jones said Thursday in his first public comments about the former Bulldog running back and Carver High alum. "But I think he just needs to make better decisions and I think he will, you know. Everybody still supports him, everybody still loves him and we're here for him and still going to try to help him make the best decisions."
Following his dismissal by head coach Mark Richt, Crowell subsequently transferred to Alabama State where he will be eligible to play for the FCS Hornets this fall.
Jones said the arrest took many on the team off guard.
"He had been working so hard, had not been getting into trouble. He was becoming a leader, so when something like that happened, it kind of upset some people," Jones said. "As a team, we always lose individuals, people going to the NFL, people transferring, so this was just one of those things, so you've got to be prepared for that. We hate that we lost him that way, but we're still a team here, we've got a goal in mind and we've still got to stay focused."
Jones believes a team meeting, one with him, Abry Jones, Aaron Murray and Tavarres King taking the lead, went a long way to getting the team focused on where he feels it needs to be.
"We all stood up and had words for each other. We've had an upper-classmen meeting and relayed what we talked about to the rest of the team," Jones said. "We just told the guys, 'you know what we have here, you know why we came back here.' We said 'y'all know what our goal is.' We told them we've got the best staff in the nation and we've got the whole Bulldog Nation behind us.
"The more we stick together and the more we do right, the more we can pave our way to where we want to go. We've just got to continue to believe in each other and stay out of trouble. If we see somebody not doing the right thing, you've got to correct it; you've got to be the bigger brother."
Jones also responded to a question as to whether or not the team's different array of off-field incidents this past year has given outsiders a troubled perception of the Bulldog program.
"I don't think so. It's the individual that makes the mistake, not the University of Georgia," Jones said. "Coach Richt didn't get in trouble. Most of us haven't got in trouble. That's what you've got to look at."
He also said the Crowell incident, along with others involving former Carver High athletes, should not reflect negatively on his high school alma mater.
Along with Crowell, former Bulldog and Carver graduate Quintavious Harrow also recently left the program. Another Carver grad, Deion Bonner, was arrested in April of 2011 and charged by UGA police with theft by taking inside the Bulldog locker room. Bonner is currently a freshman at Tennessee.
"I hear that a lot. It's not Carver, it's the individual. There are a lot of great players who have went on from Carver. We've had guys go to Oklahoma State, Duke, Ole Miss … We've got a lot of players in Division I football," Jones said. "It's the individual that makes mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes and I think the mistakes they made weren't the right thing to do, but it's never the school, it's the players."
As for Jones, he said his formula for staying out of mischief is actually quite simple.
"I try. I'm not perfect by any means. I've just got a goal in mind and I'm trying to reach my goal. I've got great supporters and I listen to older people," Jones said. "I've seen people make mistakes. I'm not going to go down that road. You're supposed to learn from other people's mistakes, and that's what I try to do."
This and That
Jones said fellow outside linebacker T.J. Stripling is up to "235 to 240" pounds. "He's ready to ball," Jones said. … Regarding freshman outside linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Josh Dawson, Jones said "They're athletes, man. What I try to do with them is get them to break their high school habits. They've got bad technique from high school where they just try to bowl over people, bull over lineman and all kinds of stuff. You don't do that in college, so we're trying to get them away from that, which they are and just go with the basics, work on their footwork, get comfortable and try to be consistent." … Defensive end Abry Jones said Georgia's depth at defensive end is better than a season ago. "I like our rotation. I think we've got a group of guys who can play. Coach G (Rodney Garner) has confidence in everybody on the defensive line and I don't think we'll have any problem rotating." … Wide receiver Tavarres King cited freshman cornerback Sheldon Dawson as someone who has caught his eye.