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Kaltefleiter: Hebron paid his debt; Now, let him play.


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Akeem Hebron is not a punk. He's not a prima donna who thinks his football abilities put him above society, above the law. He doesn't ooze entitlement. He doesn't expect to be coddled.

Hebron is just a small piece of a larger pie. He's a maturing 19-year-old, making sure his short time at Georgia doesn't become a punch line.

"I set a goal to get back here, and now I have another goal to graduate from here," he said.

Hebron spent the fall in purgatory. As his Georgia teammates constructed one of the most memorable seasons in Bulldogs history, Hebron was stuck in military school in Milledgeville. Arrested twice in less than three months last year for underage possession of alcohol, Hebron was suspended by the school. Ironically, his first arrest occurred in the parking lot of the Butts-Mehre building, the athletic compound where players spend almost 40 percent of their days during the season. He was with two friends, one who played golf at Georgia and a former Bulldogs golfer.

Bitterness would've consumed a lot of players in Hebron's cleats. Most would've taken the woe-is-me route, transferred and started fresh. Hebron seemed like the perfect candidate because the Maryland native was so far from home.

"I couldn't complain; I knew the rules before I got suspended," Hebron said. "It's not like I could say that I didn't know. The rules were clear. I just had to take my punishment and carry on."

After his semester stint at Georgia Military College ended, Hebron returned to Georgia on Jan. 5. It had been nearly seven months since teammate Demarcus Dobbs had dropped Hebron at the GMC campus. It felt like seven years.

Hebron discovered that GMC isn't for weak souls. Each day starts at 5:30 a.m. on the nose and ends exactly at 11 p.m. The whole environment is structured and controlled. Freedom is not guaranteed, but earned. Hebron accepted the situation and counted the days until he could return to Georgia. He learned discipline. He learned patience.

"It was totally different from Athens," Hebron chuckled. "When you come to college, they say as soon as you go to college the coaches are in control of you and they've got all your time. Compared to there, we've got all the time in the world."

If not for his transgressions, Hebron would've been a contender to start at weakside linebacker this past season and in 2008. But the emergence of Rennie Curran, and the glut of players at linebacker, have made Hebron's quest for playing time much more daunting. He'll start near the bottom of the depth chart in the spring and he'll have to prove himself all over again. He knows that.

But there's something about Hebron. There's something that leads you to believe that his past troubles have altered him for the better. There's something that tells you that Hebron's college career will finish the way he wants.

And that every once in a while second chances are deserved.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 020608

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SacFalcFan (2/7/2008)
Statick (2/7/2008)
He'd better have his head on straight from now on.

he does and I guarantee you that you will LOVE his play on the field.

I know all about Hebron and have seen him play before.

I just don't want him to screw his career up.

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