Standing before a media throng for the first time since then, Dumas-Johnson took full ownership of his mistake.
“I’m definitely disappointed in myself and the decision I made,” Dumas-Johnson said after the Bulldogs’ first practice of preseason camp Thursday. “I’ve been disciplined for that, and I’m really just looking forward to moving on from that. I made a bad decision, and I take full responsibility for what I did and, um, me and the team, we’re just taking it day by day and moving forward.”
Dumas-Johnson declined to specify exactly what kind of punishment or consequences he received from UGA as a result.
“The discipline process? I don’t want to ever do it again,” Dumas-Johnson said, grinning slightly. “It was pretty hard. Throughout that process, I was hard on myself. I didn’t believe I made the right decision. I was really hard on myself.”
Dumas-Johnson’s reckless-driving incident actually occurred on the night of Jan. 10, one day after the Bulldogs defeated TCU 65-7 in the College Football Playoff Championship game and the same day the team returned to Athens from Los Angeles. Five days later, teammate Devin Willock and recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy were killed in a high-speed, alcohol-related crash. Police determined that LeCroy was racing Georgia junior defensive lineman Jalen Carter at more than 100 mph on Barnett Shoals Road before leaving the roadway.
Dumas-Johnson and teammate Smael Mondon were among the first of several Georgia players on the scene. Dumas-Johnson’s Dodge Charger was parked sideways in the middle of Barnett Shoals Road at the site of the crash when police arrived at 3 a.m. Jan. 15.
It was during the subsequent weeks-long investigation that police determined that Dumas-Johnson’s car was one of two Chargers that eluded police after they were observed speeding in the area of East Campus Road and College Station Road on Jan. 10. Dumas-Johnson turned himself in at the Athens-Clarke County Jail on Feb. 21. On April 17, the junior linebacker from Hyattsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty to reckless driving and had the racing charge dismissed. He was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and was ordered to complete a defensive-driving course and traffic violators’ impact program, pay a $635 fine and do 40 hours of community service.
Since then, there have been at least 13 other incidents in which players have been charged with speeding, reckless driving or DUI. The latest occurred just last week when sophomore defensive lineman Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins was stopped for driving 90 mph in a 70-mph zone on I-85 in Franklin County. Ingram-Dawkins subsequently was jailed because of an outstanding bench warrant for failure to appear in court to resolve a handicap-parking citation in Athens-Clarke County.
It’s a situation that has confounded even coach Kirby Smart.
“What concerns me most is the safety of our players,” Smart said. “When you drive at high speeds, it’s unsafe, and we don’t want that to happen. We’re going to do all we can to take that out and make sure it’s eradicated. But I’m also smart enough to know that 18 to 20 years old is when this happens.”
Dumas-Johnson falls into that category. He’s one of numerous players on the team who drives a Charger, a type of car known for packing a massive amount of horsepower into a light frame and body.
The adoption of name, image and likeness legislation allows today’s college athletes the means to afford such vehicles, if not receive them as endorsements.
Dumas-Johnson, though, does not believe it to be a “culture problem” at Georgia.
“I definitely don’t think it’s a culture that we created,” Dumas-Johnson said. “Just some bad choices that we’re making right now, and hopefully the team will get it together.”
Dumas-Johnson said it’s his intention to see that that happens. As the Bulldogs’ starting inside “Mike” linebacker, he’s the captain of the Georgia defense. Last year, he was a finalist for the Butkus Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top linebacker, and he named first-team All-American by Sporting News and ESPN. He enters his junior season with 92 career tackles while playing in 29 of the Bulldogs’ past 30 games.
Dumas-Johnson said he intends to lead Georgia off the field this year as well as a player who already is getting some NFL draft buzz. The first step toward earning that opportunity, he said, is owning his mistakes.
“Accountability is really just about growing as a person, knowing you were wrong,” Dumas-Johnson said. “You can’t move past something unless you admit it, you know. Take credit for it, that’s what I try to do. You can’t dwell on the past. If I dwell on the past, what do you think the defense is going to do? I’m the leader of the defense, one of them.
“So you’ve got to keep moving forward, and that’s pretty much it.”
A chronological list of speeding or reckless driving incidents that have occurred among Georgia football players since a fatal crash took the lives of two team members Jan. 15:
Feb. 17 – Aliou Bah, freshman offensive lineman: Stopped in February by Athens-Clarke County Police and charged with driving 65 in a 45 mph zone in a gray 2020 Dodge Charger on Atlanta Highway at Epps Bridge Parkway. He received 12 months’ probation and was ordered to complete a defensive-driving course and traffic violators’ impact program, pay a $635 fine and do 40 hours of community service.
Feb. 21 – Jamon Dumas-Johnson, junior linebacker: For racing and reckless driving for an incident that occurred Jan. 10. On April 17, pleaded guilty to reckless driving and had racing charge dismissed. He was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and was ordered complete a defensive-driving course and traffic violators’ impact program, pay a $635 fine and do 40 hours of community service.
Feb. 23 – De’Nylon Morrissette, sophomore receiver: Stopped by Athens-Clarke County Police for driving 81 in a 45 mph zone on Atlanta Highway in his gray 2019 Dodge Charger.
Feb. 23 – Marvin Jones, freshman defensive end: Stopped by Georgia State Patrol in Athens for driving 93 in a 65 mph zone on the Highway 10 Loop, which is the four-lane perimeter highway that surrounds Athens.
March 1 – Jalen Carter, junior defensive lineman: Arrested by Athens-Clarke County Police on charges of street racing and reckless driving stemming from the Jan. 15 double-fatality crash that took the life of teammate Devin Willock and football recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy. On March 16, his no-contest plea yielded a sentence of 12 months’ probation, $1,000 fine, 80 hours of community service and attendance of state-approved defensive-driving course.
March 25 – Christen Miller, freshman defensive lineman: Stopped by Oconee County Sheriff’s Department for driving 95 in a 65 mph zone.
March 25 – Kendall Milton, sophomore running back: Stopped by Georgia State Patrol in Athens and cited for driving 79 in a 65 mph zone.
May 2 – Morrissette No. 2: Pulled over in Walton County for traveling 91 in a 55 mph zone.
May 9 – Morrisette No. 3: Arrested on DUI/drugs charges by Oconee County authorities at 3:30 a.m. after striking another vehicle from behind on Georgia 316. Also charged with driving on a restricted license and too fast for conditions.
May 15 – Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, junior receiver: Stopped by police in Coral Springs, Florida, for speeding (60 in a 50 mph zone).
May 16 – Rosemy-Jacksaint No. 2: Stopped by police in Coral Springs, Florida, cited for speeding (71 in a 40 mph zone).
May 23 – Rosemy-Jacksaint No. 3: Pulled over Athens-Clarke County Police after being clocked at 90 in a 45 mph zone on Atlanta Highway. Jailed for reckless driving and “speeding-maximum limits.”
July 5 – Samuel M’Pemba, freshman linebacker: Stopped by Oconee County Sheriff’s Department and cited for driving 88 in a 55 mph zone.
July 31 – Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins, redshirt freshman defensive lineman: Stopped on I-85 in Franklin County for driving 90 in a 70 mph zone. Records review revealed Ingram-Dawkins had a warrant in Athens-Clarke County for failure to appear in court to resolve a handicap parking violation. Was jailed, posted a $13 bond and was fined $200 for contempt of court.