As the father of a two-year-old baby girl, last Friday's tragic shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. hit Georgia cornerback Branden Smith harder than anything he's ever endured on the football field.
"When I heard about it, I called my baby's mom just to make sure my daughter was alright," Smith said after practice Wednesday. "I know it was all the way up in Connecticut, but I still wanted to make sure my daughter was safe and alright. It really shocked me. "
Of course, Smith wasn't the only one.
"I first saw it on Twitter, but I didn't really believe it," he said. "It thought it was a joke. But once I saw the news, it hit me."
Smith said he still hasn't gotten over the shock, and expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragedy.
"It had me thinking a lot. It could have been my own," Smith said. "When I heard about it, I was sick. I wouldn't want that to happen to my own and it's very sad that it happened. But yeah, it had me thinking a lot. It taught me you really can't take anything for granted. "
The Atlanta native said he's a changed person for it.
"You never know when it's your day. Life is short for some people," he said. "You've got to live every day to its fullest and praise God every day, not just when bad things and good things happen, you have to do it all the time."
With Christmas now less than a week away, Smith said he's anxiously awaiting some family time with daughter Leiyah.
Yes, Smith said Santa Claus plans on being very generous this year.
"Christmas and her birthday are back-to-back, so Christmas will be good for her," Smith said. "She's getting a lot. She's spoiled."
Fortunately, Smith has some help with the shopping.
"I picked her out some shoes, but I let my mom pick out some clothes because I'm not too good with female clothes," Smith laughed. "But she'll get a lot. Shoes, clothes
toys. We'll probably split it up, half on Christmas and half on her birthday, but she's going to make our pretty good."
Georgia's post-practice injury report remained basically the same Wednesday, with nose tackle John Jenkins (concussion) and wide receiver Tavarres King (left hamstring strain) still out nursing their respective injuries.
Wide receiver Rhett McGowan (left wrist sprain), wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (right groin strain), running back Richard Samuel (left shoulder AC joint sprain) and defensive end Abry Jones (left ankle injury) remained listed as "limited" in practice Wednesday.
Linebacker Mike Gillard returned to practice Wednesday after appearing on the injury report Tuesday.
This and that
Linebacker Jarvis Jones reiterated that he will not make any decision on whether or not to leave early for the NFL until after the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska.
Fifth-ranked Georgia held a two-hour practice in full pads Wednesday afternoon. The Bulldogs will practice again Thursday morning and Friday in Athens before they disperse for Christmas. Player and coaches will reconvene in Orlando on Dec. 26 leading up to the Jan. 1 contest against the Cornhuskers. "It wasn't quite what we've been getting," head coach Mark Richt said about Wednesday's practice. "The bottom line is I thought we got real sloppy today. It was not very good, but we'll be back out here tomorrow morning."