BULLOCH COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - One week after one of the strangest arrests many have ever seen, Georgia Southern University quarterback Shai Werts is back in the huddle for the Eagles.
The Saluda County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Office released the body cam video Friday afternoon - one day after dash cam and in-car footage of the July 31 arrest was released. It comes after the university announced Friday morning that Werts’ suspension for the cocaine arrest is over and he is back in full standing with the program.
After misdemeanor cocaine charges were dropped against Werts, it didn’t take long for the school to announce the indefinite suspension has been lifted. There was an air of relief for Werts at practice Friday morning, after speaking with Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein to discuss the situation.
“He called me. He called me to let me know he had talked to his lawyers and that the charges were dropped, so we both kind of shared a moment of relief, and then I shared with him that here’s an opportunity to go out and take advantage of this situation and grow as a human being," Kleinlein said. “What he was accused of was very hard for me to believe because I’ve watched this young man work for three years.”
Like the rest of the public, Kleinlein never saw the video of the arrest until Thursday. He called it ‘eye opening,’ but says he came away proud of Werts’ demeanor in tough circumstances.
“What struck me most from the video was how he handled himself when he kind of knew that this was not right, that this was not the right information. He was a professional and as courteous as he could be in that process.”
It’s been a strange ordeal for the red shirt junior and the entire Georgia Southern football program, but after a week of questions surrounding their star, Kleinlein says he’s glad everything around Werts can now get back to football.
“Shai’s a leader. you know, Shai understands what he has to do to lead this football program; be a leader in our athletic department, and be a leader for our university. I think he’s going to come through this a better person. Unfortunately, he went through some challenging times, but I think he’s going to come through this in a better way," Kleinlein said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to move forward from this, and the best way he can get back the perception of what he really is, is doing the things he’s done every single day he’s been here, which is be a leader in our community and a leader of our football program."
WTOC caught up with some Eagle fans Friday in Statesboro to see how they’re feeling after this roller coaster of a week. There were questions of whether Werts would be under center for Game 1 against LSU in Death Valley on the Aug. 31, but after his charges were dropped, Eagle fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
“I was kind of concerned with it; holding my judgement until I found out all the facts, so, you know, everybody was kind of confused up front; didn’t really know what was going on and all that. Kind of weird to have something on the hood of a car, so it was kind of strange from the beginning,” one fan said.
“I saw last night that he had been freed from the charges, I was like, ‘Yay, so I’m glad!’ I’m real glad for the Eagles and the quarterback, because I’d hate to be accused and then suffer from that,” another fan said.
No one from the football program was made available to the media, but we are expected to hear from Werts on Saturday after the Eagles’ first scrimmage of the fall.