Kirby Smart remembers what it was like to be in college.
That alone is reason enough to understand that off-field accidents can occur, especially those that have on-field consequences. That occurred Sunday, when Georgia running back Sony Michel sustained a broken left forearm in an All-Terrain Vehicle accident, which will sideline him when practice begins in August.
Prior to the beginning of Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians’ Georgia Celebrity Golf Classic at the Great Waters Golf Course, Smart said that he’s in total of understanding of how an accident like this can happen.
“I think you always want kids to be careful, but kids are going to be kids,” Smart said. “I was a player once. I went and did things, rode on jet skis, rode on things. Accidents are going to happen. You hate it. It’s unfortunate. We’ve moved past it now. We know he’s going to be 100 percent.”
Michel had surgery on Monday and Georgia has yet to place a timetable on his recovery. Asked if Michel could be back by the Sept. 3 season opener against North Carolina, Smart said, “To be honest, I’m not even thinking about it.”
It’s believed to be a six- to eight-week recovery period for Michel. He received a lot of reps at the starting tailback position this spring as Nick Chubb continues to rehab his injured knee.
Smart compared Michel’s injury to the one former Alabama running back Kenyan Drake sustained late last season. In a Nov. 14 game against Mississippi State, Drake broke his arm covering a kickoff. Three weeks later, Drake was able to play in the SEC championship game against Florida, which does give Smart some hope for Michel, even if there’s no time of return at the moment.
“We went through a very similar situation with Kenyan Drake,” Smart said. “He was able to make it back and make a quick turnaround, so that was positive for Sony.”
With Chubb and Michel both not expected to start practice full-go, Brendan Douglas likely will open August as Georgia’s de facto No. 1 back. Freshman running back Elijah Holyfield is a candidate to earn a lot more first-group reps than initially expected due to Michel’s injury. Other backs at Georgia’s disposal who could be in line for added reps include sophomore Tae Crowder, sophomore Shaquery Wilson and freshman Brian Herrien.
Of course, there’s still a chance Chubb and Michel could be ready for the North Carolina game. Michel became Georgia’s starting running back during the final seven games in 2015 following Chubb’s knee injury. Michel finished the season with 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns, which included playing with a club on his right arm to protect a broken right hand.
“Tough injury. Tough for a kid who’s worked so hard to be in the best shape of his life,” Smart said. “It’s part of the game. It’s part of things that happen. Kids have mistakes and things happen. It’s very unfortunate for him but he’s in good spirits now. He realizes he’s going to be healthy again. He’ll be 100 percent again.”