ATHENS - Georgia defensive end Marcus Jackson, who missed the 2004 season after he suffered a blood clot in his brain, will not resume his career.
During tests to determine the cause of the blood clot in July, 2004, the Norcross grad was found to have a medical condition that will prevent him from safely resuming his career, according to a release issued Wednesday by the sports information department.
No further details on the medical condition were released.
The decision was made after discussions with Jackson's family, doctors and Georgia coaches. While remaining on scholarship, he will assume other responsibilities in the program.
"It's tough for guys when that happens," head coach Mark Richt said. "It's been such a part of their lives for so long. I know he's going through some mental transitions right now."
Jackson, from Norcross, played in nine games, including one start, in 2003.
Georgia lost two reserve football players Wednesday to the lure of more playing time.
For running back Michael Cooper and defensive end Richard Cook, "it was just a situation of feeling like they'll have a better opportunity elsewhere," Richt said. Neither player had any academic or discipline issues, Richt added.
Cooper came to Georgia in 2002 with plenty of hype. He was a SuperPrep All-American and the state's Class AAA player of the year, but he never found a consistent role at Georgia. He started eight games for the Bulldogs in 2003 and led the team with 672 rushing yards, but he lost the job and played in only four games last year.
"It just didn't work out for Michael the way everybody hoped it would," Richt said. "Michael is an excellent football player."
Cooper's chances of playing time this year were very slim since he was behind Thomas Brown, Danny Ware and Kregg Lumpkin on the depth chart and was battling for the fourth-team spot with Tyson Browning and Tony Milton.
He is expected to transfer to a Division I-AA school so he can play next year. Richt wouldn't name the school, but Cooper is known to be considering Jacksonville State in Alabama.
Cooper informed Richt of his decision Wednesday morning. Cook told Richt on Monday that he wouldn't return. Both players participated in the first week of spring practice and returned to Athens this week after spring break.
"I think spring break is a time where guys do a lot of soul-searching," Richt said.
Personal issues - and not just playing time - contributed to the departure of Cook, Richt and defensive line coach Rodney Garner said.
"You hate to see him leave, but he had some personal things going on in his life that he had to deal with," Garner said. "He thought it was the best decision for him, but I told him I didn't agree with it."
Cook was listed as third-team defensive tackle for the Bulldogs and would have provided much-needed depth in the middle this year. He also intends to transfer to a Division I-AA school, Richt said.
"There are no hard feelings on our part or on his part that I know of," Richt said.
Cooper and Cook both will be academically eligible in the fall, Richt said. That means they won't count against Georgia in the NCAA's new academic progress rate.
The moves freed up three scholarships for the Bulldogs, who promptly awarded one to offensive lineman Ryan Schnetzer. Schnetzer has been a valuable reserve for Georgia for two years and started two games in 2003.
The moves also left Georgia without much depth in the middle of the defensive line, leading Richt to hint that fans can expect to see a lot of true freshmen Kade Weston and Jeff Owens on the field next year. "I think one or both of them would have to play next year," he said.
thinking about NFL
Spring practice generally is the most tiresome part of the season for college football players. The days are long, the practices are rough and the season is many months away.
It's particularly tough, Georgia offensive line coach Neil Callaway has noticed, on offensive linemen who returned to college after strongly considering early departure to the NFL.
"The draft is coming up, and they start thinking about 'what if?' this and 'what if?' that," Callaway said.
Georgia guard Max Jean-Gilles falls into that category. When Jean-Gilles went home to Miami after the 2004 season, he was leaning toward going to the NFL, but he has avoided the lull that drags down some players in his position, Callaway said.
"He's been very focused to this point," Callaway said. "I have not seen any of that."
It hasn't been hard, said Jean-Gilles.
"If you're a football player, you love the game," he said.
And he knows he has to work hard this spring if he wants to achieve his main personal goal in the fall, which is "pretty much the Outland Trophy," he said.
"I want respect," he said, "to be known as one of the best."
After a bad outing on Monday, the Bulldogs had a productive practice on Wednesday, Richt said.
"Today was a very, very good day," he said. "It was about as good a practice as I can remember. I was kind of grinning the whole time through. It was good for my heart. Monday really bothered me, but today was great."
Georgia returns to the field Friday.
Running back Tyson Browning (shoulder) wore a green jersey Wednesday. ... Defensive end Quentin Moses returned Wednesday after missing Monday's practice due to a stomach virus. He still is slightly slowed by a strained hamstring. ... Defensive back Thomas Flowers was singled out by Richt for his solid spring performance.
- The Associated Press contributed to this story