ATHENS – Tim Kimbrough, who was Georgia’s leading returning tackler from last year, is not returning after all.
The team hasn’t announced it yet, but Kimbrough has made clear on his Twitter account that he is leaving.
“I didn’t have a choice to stay at Georgia,” Kimbrough tweeted, adding in another message: “I have to go to a D2 school so I can play this year. I’m not sitting out this year.”
Kimbrough also hinted at some sort of issue with the coaching staff: “I had 4 different sets of coaches while I was there and I was good with each coaching staff. Idk (I don’t know) what happened this year.”
Kimbrough was recruited when Todd Grantham was defensive coordinator and Kirk Olivadotti was inside linebacker. Then Jeremy Pruitt became DC and Mike Ekeler the ILB coach, and this year Smart arrived and hired Mel Tucker as DC and Glenn Schumann as ILB coach.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said after Wednesday’s scrimmage, the first one in which Kimbrough was known to be absent, that the senior “a little leave of absence right now.”
Unhappiness with playing time would appear to be the issue. Kimbrough had been working with the second team inside linebackers, behind junior Reggie Carter and sophomore Natrez Patrick. Sophomore Roquan Smith has been getting first-team snaps on Tuesday, ahead of Kimbrough, with Patrick limited in practice.
A native of Indianapolis, Kimbrough started seven games last year, then missed the Taxslayer Bowl last season because of a suspension, which was also for undisclosed reasons. But this past spring Smart said Kimbrough was back on the team and in good standing.
Kimbrough has not graduated yet. He will have to sit out a season if he chooses to transfer within the FBS level.
The departure leaves Georgia pretty thin at inside linebacker. Carter is in his fourth year but only has one career start. Patrick had two last year, while Smith played sporadically last yer. Senior Ryne Rankin has mostly just played special teams, leaving sophomore Juwan Taylor and true freshman Jaleel Laguins.
This will be the third player to leave Georgia on his own volition since Smart’s hiring. Safety Jonathan Abram, who started four games as a freshman, left for a junior college after being upset when then-defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt wasn’t retained. Tailback A.J. Turman opted to leave for more playing time, and ended up at Florida Atlantic. (A fourth player, quarterback Faton Bauta, left the team just before Smart was officially hired, and ended up at Colorado State.)