Zach Mettenberger returns to Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. -- At the end of spring practice at Georgia in 2010, Aaron Murray wasn't convinced he'd beat out fellow freshman Zach Mettenberger to become the Bulldogs' starting quarterback.

"It was back and forth," Murray said. "It was tight. It probably would have gone through the summer and [preseason] camp, and who knows what would have happened?"

It was such a tight race that Murray even inquired about transferring to another school if he didn't win the job, according to Bulldogs tight end Arthur Lynch, a close friend of both quarterbacks.

"Aaron told me after that spring that he was calling a lot of other coaches because it was such a close competition," Lynch said. "He didn't know if he was going to win the job."

But Murray, who was one of the country's top-rated quarterback prospects before redshirting at Georgia in 2009, never finished his competition with Mettenberger. Mettenberger, who grew up in nearby Watkinsville, Ga., and spent much of his childhood around the UGA football offices where his mother, Tammy, works as an administrative assistant, was dismissed from the team on April 18, 2010.

Mettenberger's dismissal stemmed from a March 2010 incident at a bar in Remerton, Ga., in which he was initially charged with underage possession of alcohol, disorderly conduct, obstruction and two counts of having a fake ID. UGA coach Mark Richt originally planned to suspend Mettenberger for a couple of games, but kicked him off the team after he was also charged with two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery for grabbing the buttocks and breasts of a 20-year-old woman. The alcohol-related charges were dismissed, and Mettenberger pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery and was sentenced to 12 months' probation, community service and a $2,000 fine.

"It was very difficult," Richt said. "It's difficult anytime a situation gets to a point where I might have to dismiss a guy from the team. Knowing Zach for as long as we've known him and his mom and dad, they're family to us. They're still family to the Georgia program. It was very difficult, but I think he understood it wasn't easy for me and wasn't easy for him."

To read the rest of the story from Mark Schlabach, click here.