COLUMBUS — Just because Deangelo Gibbs is back in school doesn’t mean he’s back on the team.
That was the word from Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who cryptically addressed the sophomore safety’s status with the team shortly before speaking at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. Smart and basketball coach Tom Crean flew down from Athens to Columbus for a meet-and-greet with UGA fans and alumni on Monday.
“That’s probably a little premature,” Smart said of reports that Gibbs has returned to the team following his re-enrollment for summer semester. “Nothing’s done with Deangelo Gibbs until he’s back with us. That verdict is still out right now.”
Gibbs has been working out and sending out tweets from Texas, where his cousin J.R. Reed resides. He was not enrolled in winter semester, which began in January, for unspecified reasons, and did not play after the Bulldogs’ eighth game last season. He did have offseason surgery on his left shoulder, but he has has been completely cleared from that, and Smart did not reference Gibbs’ injury Monday as a mitigating factor.
“He’s working and doing the things we ask and he needs to continue to do that,” Smart said. “We’ll make a decision when the time comes, but being enrolled in school doesn’t signify that he’s on our roster right now.”
Gibbs was a top-50 prospect from Grayson High School. He worked with the No. 1 defense at the nickleback position as an early enrollee in the spring of 2017. But after playing extensively in Georgia’s opener last season, his playing time gradually dissipated until he no longer traveled with the team after the Florida game.
Smart addressed as much as he could with two other situations that could impact his roster. Notre Dame defensive tackle Jay Hayes announced a month ago that he planned to join the Bulldogs as a graduate transfer this fall, and punter Marshall Long recently announced via social media that he had undergone surgery on his left knee.
Smart said he couldn’t comment on Hayes because he remains “a recruitable student-athlete.” But Smart acknowledged that establishing depth and experience on the defensive line is a priority for the coming season.
“You’re always trying to get more of a veteran presence on any team and any depth you can create through recruiting or transfers,” Smart said.
As for Long, Smart said Long’s surgery was not major and that he’s close to making a return already. This was Long’s third knee surgery.
“I think Marshall’s going to be fine,” Smart said. “He’s rehabbing now, he’s working out, he punted a lot this spring. We’re excited about a young man we have coming in, too. … We’ve got several guys who will compete for the position.”
Smart is referencing incoming freshman signee Jake Camarda of Norcross, who is rated as the nation’s No. 1 punter in the 2018 class.