ATHENS — There’s no easy segue from what is an ugly and delicate situation, so let’s not try. But there are depth chart and other implications to D’Antne Demery’s departure from Georgia’s football signing class.
The most immediate is this one: For next season, Georgia is probably now set as far as the NCAA scholarship limit of 85.
It’s a very unwanted result for Kirby Smart and his program, as Demery was expected to eventually compete for a starting spot. If not this season, then down the line. When it came to getting within the scholarship limit, this wasn’t how Smart wanted to do it.
But this is where we are: As spring practice began, this reporter’s count was that Georgia was committed to 87 scholarships for this fall. That included the 26 signed members of the recruiting class, as well as kicker David Marvin, the graduate transfer who’s arriving as a blueshirt in August.
Now Demery is officially gone. And while it is not yet official, rising senior receiver Shakenneth Williams did not participate in spring practice. Williams, who Smart said was dealing with unspecified injuries, acted as a student coach, working with the receivers. If Williams ends up re-joining the team, then Georgia would be at 86 scholarships. If he transfers or takes a medical disqualification (still on scholarship but doesn’t count against the limit), then Georgia is at 85.
The count also doesn’t include kicker Rodrigo Blankenship or fullback Christian Payne. So if either or both is going to get a scholarship, or if the team is going to pursue another signee or transfer, then room still needs to be made.
Still, this is a far cry from the scholarship pinch that the team appeared headed toward after last season, when it was committed to well over 90 players. But attrition was always expected, it was just a matter of when. Smart said on signing day that “we’ll be fine with the 85,” and that appears to be the case with time still to go before the spring semester even ends.
Here’s my count for this fall:
Seniors (17): RB Nick Chubb, RB Sony Michel, TE Jeb Blazevich; TE Jordan Davis, WR Javon Wims, WR Shakenneth Williams (?), OL Isaiah Wynn, OL Dyshon Sims, OT Aulden Bynum, NT John Atkins, ILB Reggie Carter, OLB Davin Bellamy, OLB Lorenzo Carter, DB Aaron Davis, CB Malkom Parrish, S Dominick Sanders, SN Trent Frix*.
Juniors (18): TE Jackson Harris, WR Terry Godwin, WR Michael Chigbu, WR Jayson Stanley, G-C Lamont Gaillard, OL Kendall Baker, DT Trent Thompson, DT DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle, DE Jonathan Ledbetter, DL Keyon Brown, ILB Roquan Smith, ILB Juwan Taylor, ILB Natrez Patrick, ILB-S Rashad Roundtree, OLB D’Andre Walker, CB Deandre Baker, S Jarvis Wilson, OT D’Marcus Hayes.
Sophomores (22): QB Jacob Eason, RB Brian Herrien, RB Elijah Holyfield, TE Isaac Nauta, TE Charlie Woerner, WR Riley Ridley, WR Tyler Simmons, DL Tyler Clark , DL Julian Rochester, DL David Marshall, ILB Jaleel Laguins, DL Michail Carter, CB Tyrique McGhee, CB Mecole Hardman, DB J.R. Reed; P Marshall Long, OL Pat Allen, DE Justin Young, ILB Tae Crowder, OL Sam Madden, OL Sage Hardin, OL-DL Michael Barnett.
Redshirt freshmen (4): OL Solomon Kindley, OL Chris Barnes, OL Ben Cleveland, OLB Chauncey Manac.
Freshmen (24): OLB Robert Beal, DB Tray Bishop, WR Trey Blount, DB Latavious Brini, QB Jake Fromm, DB Deangelo Gibbs, LB Walter Grant, DL Malik Herring, WR Jeremiah Holloman, LB Jaden Hunter, OL Netori Johnson, WR Matt Landers, S Richard LeCounte, ILB Nate McBride, DB William Poole, ILB Monty Rice, OL Justin Shaffer, DB Ameer Speed, DB Eric Stokes, RB D’Andre Swift, OL Andrew Thomas, WR Mark Webb, OT Isaiah Wilson, DL Devonte Wyatt.
*-Frix was awarded a scholarship this past year, but it’s not clear if it carries into 2017.