ATHENS — A day after Toneil Carter’s very public de-commitment, which his family said was the result of Georgia pulling the scholarship offer, head coach Kirby Smart was given a chance to respond.
There are limits to what Smart could say, as NCAA rules prevent coaches from commenting about recruits until they’ve signed. Still, Smart was asked to respond to the Houston tailback’s family saying that UGA pulled the offer, and that Smart didn’t tell them that himself.
Smart did not address the second point. He implied that the first one was incorrect.
“First of all, I’m not allowed to talk about that situation at all. But I will say that my philosophy, our philosophy has always been we’re not going to drop kids in recruiting. OK?” Smart said. “We may defer enrollment. We may say that you may enroll at a later date. But we are not going to drop kids in recruiting. OK? That’s not what – again, I can’t comment on this situation, I can comment on philosophically how we feel and how conversations happen. But I can’t comment on his specific situation.”
Smart was asked if deferring enrollment could entail grayshirting – when a player sits out the season and then enrolls in January. Smart said he meant deferring from early enrolling to coming in the summer. That had been Carter’s plan at Georgia, but instead he’s heading to home-state Texas.
Carter, the tailback from Houston, had been committed to Georgia and planned to enroll in January. But after last week’s surprising news that Nick Chubb and Sony Michel would return for their senior years, Carter and his family were informed that there was no longer room for him.
“We told them Toneil was willing to come there and just be there as a midyear and learn their style and learn their playbook and everything,” Byron Carter, who is Toneil’s older brother and guardian, told DawgNation’s Chip Towers on Monday. “He wasn’t even concerned about starting anymore. But these guys were like, ‘we don’t have the numbers for him to come in anymore.’ So that is what it is at the end of the day. That’s it. We were done with Georgia.
“We had to open the door back up, because they weren’t even sure about August. We weren’t going to wait on UGA to get their mind right, or get their numbers right.”
Georgia is facing a numbers crunch when it comes to next year and the NCAA scholarship limit of 85. It already existed before the returns of Chubb, Michel and outside linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy.
“I think you’re close to 85 every year, right?” Smart said.
“Yeah that’s the plan, is to be close to 85,” Smart said. “Certainly to put a pin-point on an exact number, I can’t really do that, because we’re still waiting on two guys (Aaron Davis and Dominick Sanders) to make decisions on whether they’re coming back or not. Academic casualties could occur between now and then. So I wouldn’t say that you ever have an exact number until fall camp.”