Smart grants Turman a new transfer release

"Running back A.J. Turman, Defensive back Johnathan Abram (Photo by Richard Morand)"

ATHENS – A.J. Turman and Kirby Smart spoke again on Sunday, with both sides reaching an agreement that they hope will end the hullabaloo over the tailback’s transfer from Georgia.

Turman will still be restricted from transferring to Miami and Florida, but Smart has agreed to a new release that will give Turman more choices.

The release granted last week only gave Turman the chance to transfer to a school in Florida, other than Miami or Florida. The new release will allow Turman to go to schools outside of Florida – other than Georgia Tech or SEC schools.

Technically, Turman could still transfer anywhere and play at his new school after sitting out a year. But he would have to pay his own way in the first year at a school on the restricted list.

Turman, speaking on Monday, confirmed one thing Smart said in his press conference on Saturday: He had no interest in following head coach Mark Richt and running backs coach Thomas Brown to Miami. Smart said he put the Miami restriction in Turman’s release because he “wanted to set a precedent.”

However, Turman did say he would have been interested in exploring a transfer to Florida.

“But I know that’s a rivalry for Georgia, so that’s why he did that,” Turman said of Smart’s decision. “But I also wanted to be able to contact any schools outside of Florida. I didn’t want this blowing up into a big deal, because I love Georgia. .. I didn’t want this to become such a big deal, like it did. But that’s just how it went.”

Turman also said he filed an appeal after Smart initially denied him a release anywhere. Smart said on Saturday that “A.J. did not appeal anything,” but Turman disputes that. The appeal went through UGA, as allowed under NCAA rules. (That led to a miscommunication, where Turman believed he was filing an appeal with the NCAA. As for whether Turman filed an appeal, UGA said Turman sent an e-mail but had not filed an official appeal by the time Smart relented and allowed Turman the limited release.)

A.J. Turman.

“I got denied my transfer twice when I talked to him and met with him (a few months ago),” Turman said Monday. “He said (at the time) he’s not going to let anybody from the University of Georgia transfer because you made a commitment here. Even though he didn’t recruit us, he said he would not let anybody transfer from the University of Georgia.”

Smart said Saturday that he didn’t want Turman to transfer because he felt the junior tailback – who didn’t get a carry in three years under the previous staff – “hadn’t given us as a staff a fair shot.”

Turman had made his decision to transfer once the season ended. He wants to be a featured back, and didn’t see it happening on a depth chart that includes Sony Michel, Nick Chubb on the mend, Brendan Douglas entering his senior year and four-star recruit Elijah Holyfield on the way.

“First of all, I don’t want people to think I’m trying to make this a big deal. It really isn’t that big of a deal. I just wanted a release from the University of Georgia, and I love Georgia, and at first coach Kirby denied my release,” Turman said. “(Now) I am thankful and grateful that I can contact other schools.”

Turman is still attending classes at UGA. He said he’s contacted “a few” schools, but hasn’t had a chance to go very deep in the process.

“But starting today I’ll be able to reach out to schools,” Turman said. “And when I get this revised permission to contact, everything will be settled and I won’t have to worry about this anymore.”

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