STATESBORO — Georgia Southern held its first scrimmage practice of preseason camp Saturday followed by a postgame news conference where quarterback Shai Werts spoke on the dropped charges from Saluda County Sheriff's Office for the first time and head coach Chad Lunsford talked about the resiliency of the Eagles.
Here are the highlights from what was said:
Opening statement from Werts
"Of course, you know everybody know what's going on. Probably one of the most trying times of my life, but I stayed down. I knew that the truth would eventually come out, I just didn't know how long it would take. Glad it came out kinda fast so it can all be over with, but it's definitely been hard to deal with."
Werts on the emotions felt in the moment
"It was more frustration than anything because I knew I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't worried about it coming back what they said it was. If you know me, you know I wouldn't do stuff like that."
Werts on handling the news of the charge alleged
"Scared, really. I was shocked when he said it. There's no way that's what it is on my hood. I knew what it was so when he said it, I just stayed calm and was telling him that's not what it is. And obviously it came back, like I said, not to be what they said it was."
Werts on the challenges of dealing with outside noise and attacks on his character
"First and foremost, I'm a child of God so that doesn't even matter. I've been through so much in my life, went through the 2-10 season, and that kind of helped me with the situation. People talked down bad, called me every name in the book, but I stayed strong. To go through this was a little different because now they're attacking my character, not my ability to play on the field. I just had to take it to the chin, let them talk, and let the results come out. They came out and that's that."
Do you plan on taking any legal action against Saluda County Sheriff's Office?
"I'd rather not speak on that. That's something for my lawyer and my representation to answer."
On scheduled road teams and crowds potentially rehashing the incident
"I'm going to still go out there and play and do my job. They can do all the talking, we still gotta play though. That's what they feed off of, they're going to try to do anything to distract you but ice got tough skin, I'm not worried about any of that."
On support received from Statesboro and GS community
"It took me back a little bit. I didn't really know that I had that much support out in the community out in Statesboro and back home. But it felt good to know that they were behind me every step of the way. I have so many messages on Facebook and all kinds of social media that I didn't get to reply to because it was so much, but just know I saw it and appreciate it all."
Coach Lunsford on Shai Werts
"I see a young man that's strong in his character and strong in his faith. A young man that got put in a tough situation and handled it well. He understands the part about speeding and that that's wrong, but was able to take the adversity and move on from it."
Lunsford on initial thoughts after incident
"When something happens like this, you just can't all of a sudden jump to it, you have to look at all the facts. But that kid's done a great job since he's been here. Is he perfect? No. He's made his mistakes in life, like we all have, but he's handled himself throughout his whole time here as a Georgia Southern man and he did it again this time."
Chuck Paggett, The George-Anne Sports Reporter, firstname.lastname@example.org