It seems like all news out of Athens this off-season has been bad news. Defensive back Sanders Commings (domestic battery) and linebacker Chase Vasser (DUI) are likely to be suspended for the first two games. In addition, UGA has yet to confirm whether reports of LB Alec Ogletree and DB Bacarri Rambo are facing multiple-game suspensions for second offenses of the athletic association’s marijuana-use policy. And we cannot forget the episode of Isaiah Crowell’s termination from UGA.

The bad news got worse this week when offensive lineman Kolton Houston was still not ruled eligible on account of taking a banned substance he says he unknowingly took.

But finally some good news and maybe a run of luck comes from the UGA camp.

Cornerback Branden Smith, one defensive back said to be facing suspension for at least a game on account of his marijuana arrest back in March, has been cleared to play in the opener.

Coach Richt broke the news:

“Branden Smith will play Game One,” Richt said. “After [reviewing] all the information that we’ve gathered, we’ve decided that he’ll be available to play in the first game and he’ll be available to talk about any details. After determining what happened, we’ve got peace that we’re doing the right thing.”

Smith said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“I came back right away to get tested [by UGA],” Smith said Saturday. “I was clean. I went to court, got tested, I was clean. I don’t do drugs. Now I’m just moving on from this incident. I’d like to apologize for the university and my family as far as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Smith might not be the best cover corner that Georgia has on the roster, but his experience helps tremendously. He will start opposite converted receiver Malcolm Mitchell. It’s important these two get a game under their belts playing together before they travel to Columbia for their first SEC game against Missouri.