ATHENS – Kirby Smart didn’t seem worried on Wednesday when asked about Georgia’s potential numbers crunch. The direct quote: “We’ll be fine with the 85.”
And that was about an hour before it emerged that graduate transfer kicker David Marvin was on the way this fall, expecting to receive a scholarship. The media didn’t know about that yet, so Smart wasn’t asked, but no doubt he knew about that, and still felt “we’ll be fine with the 85.”
That would be, for the uninitiated, the NCAA’s scholarship limit of 85. A reminder: Georgia doesn’t need to be at or under the limit until the summer begins and the new recruits enroll. What that means: There’s going to be attrition between now and then.
Based on what is publicly known, Georgia is now probably committed to 89 scholarships for the 2017 season. It signed 26 players, and Marvin’s scholarship would make it 27.
Currently — again, based on what is publicly known — there are 62 returning players to whom the team is committed to giving scholarships this season.
Here’s the breakdown:
Seniors (19): QB-P Brice Ramsey, 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, DB Reggie Wilkerson, S Dominick Sanders, SN Trent Frix*.
Juniors (17): 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.
Sophomores (23): 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 Solomon Kindley**; OL Pat Allen, DE Justin Young, ILB Tae Crowder, OL Sam Madden, OL Sage Hardin, OL-DL Michael Barnett.
Redshirt freshmen (3): OL Chris Barnes, OL Ben Cleveland, OLB Chauncey Manac.
*-Frix was awarded a scholarship this past year, but it’s not clear if it carries into the next season.
**-Kindley played in just one snap, at Missouri, and Smart has mentioned trying to apply for a redshirt. It doesn’t affect the scholarship numbers, but it’s a situation on its own worth watching.
This of course is a relatively hard count that doesn’t include walk-ons who have been on scholarship. The exceptions are Frix, as noted, as well as senior Aaron Davis, who came to school as a walk-on but long ago was put on scholarship, and has been such a key player that it’s hard to see him being anything but a scholarship player.
There’s obviously the Rodrigo Blankenship situation. If you were under the belief that eventually a scholarship would be found for Blankenship, then the Marvin news throws a giant wrench in that. Fullback Christian Payne is also a walk-on, and would have a good case for getting a scholarship. But only if there’s room.
If the above numbers are right, then Georgia is four over the limit. How does it make room? Smart pointed out that “you’ve got guys who are graduates who may transfer.” That includes Davis and John Atkins, but they’re in line for major playing time and there’s been no inkling they’ll leave. Other players are set to graduate this summer, and they include Ramsey and Wilkerson, for what it’s worth.
Some incoming players could always not qualify. But more likely it will come down to players leaving because of playing time. That could happen prior to spring practice, or players could wait to evaluate their situation after spring practice. And yes, it’s supposed to be their own decision and not that of the coaching staff. We shall see.