ATHENS — Marshall Long has called it quits.
That apparent development was characterized as “breaking news” over social media channels on Friday, but it really wasn’t. Long, a redshirt junior punter from China Grove, N.C., hasn’t been able to contribute to Georgia football’s cause since 2016 when was the starter. Since then, Long has had at least two knee injuries, two setbacks and three recoveries.
Long couldn’t be reached for comment and UGA could not immediately confirm Long’s retirement, first reported by 247Sports.com. But it is assumed that Long would qualify for a medical hardship exemption, which would allow him to remain on scholarship and not count against the Bulldogs’ overall total. The maximum the NCAA allows is 85.
After signing two more recruiting prospects on National Signing Day this past Wednesday and accepting the graduate transfer of tight end Eli Wolf from Tennessee, Georgia appears to be at 84 grants-in-aid for the 2019 season. Therefore, the Bulldogs should be in the market for at least one more addition if they choose.
In an offseason of significant ingress and egress, Georgia lost 15 seniors to graduation, had four juniors enter the NFL draft (WR Mecole Hardman, RB Elijah Holyfield, TE Isaac Nauta and WR Riley Ridley), had three underclassmen transfer (QB Justin Fields, TE Luke Ford and DB Deangelo Gibbs), have one more player currently in the transfer portal (DB Tray Bishop) and now Long.
If the numbers are accurate, then the Bulldogs should be in position to add one more player if wanted. Georgia has shown interest in Miami wide receiver Lawrence Cager as a graduate transfer. The Bulldogs also could carry an extra scholarship until preseason camp and reward a worthy walkon.
As for Long, his departure would end what surely has been a frustrating college career. He came to UGA as a rarity carrying a 3-star recruiting ranking as a full-time kicking specialist. He became a U.S. Army All-American after averaging 46.5 yards as a high school senior.
Long won the starting job as Georgia’s punter as a freshman in 2016. He played in the first nine games of the season and averaged 38.7 yards a punt. But he injured his knee in practice in the 10th week and did not play the rest of the season. Lon redshirted after Cameron Nizalek transferred in from Columbia University before the 2017 season. Long was unable to fend off freshman Jake Camarda for the punting duties this past season and lost the backup spot to transfer Landon Stratton.