UGA has revoked the football scholarship offer to Booker T. Washington WR/DB Zack Witchett, who had been committed to the Bulldogs since last summer.
The news was delivered on Wednesday by UGA assistant Tony Ball in telephone calls to Witchett and his high school coach Stanley Pritchett.
“[Ball] said they were going to revoke the offer,” Pritchett said. “They said Georgia couldn’t take a chance on a guy that they didn’t know whether or not he could stay out of trouble and contribute to the team next year.”
Georgia’s decision was made with National Signing Day less than a month away (Feb. 2).
“Yes, I was surprised by the timing,” Pritchett said. “I hadn’t heard from Georgia’s coaches in a couple of weeks. I didn’t know what was going on. Then [Ball] called me [on Wednesday]. He said ‘it was a tough decision, a hard decision — and that they wished him well and hoped he could get on with another school.”
Witchett was suspended three games of his senior season for violating undisclosed team rules, according to his coach. Georgia was made aware of the situation at the time.
On Thursday morning, Pritchett also confirmed to the AJC that Witchett had some other undisclosed issues in November that further concerned Georgia’s coaching staff.
“The [suspension] was the big thing to Georgia, and then there were some character things that kept coming up that I really can’t discuss,” said Pritchett, citing privacy laws. “It was a combination of things over a period of time … up until November.”
Witchett could not be reached on Wednesday night, and UGA officials are not allowed to comment on prospective student-athletes, per NCAA rules. However, Pritchett did reveal on Thursday morning that Georgia’s coaches told him a couple of times in November that Witchett’s actions could jeopardize his scholarship offer.
“The last time we talked about it was back in November,” Pritchett said. “It was my understanding that Georgia wanted to make sure that he continued to do the right things. They were going to monitor Zack’s progress, and that’s pretty much how we left it.” The coach said he was unaware of any player problems in the month of December.
“I didn’t know what Georgia was going to do. They are in a position where they have to win now, and they don’t have time to deal with these off-the-field issues with players.”
Prichett, the former NFL running back, declined to go into details surrounding Witchett’s three-game suspension and other issues due to privacy laws. However, he strongly defended his player.
“He’s a good person at heart,” Pritchett said. “He’s young and made some bad decisions. But he’s a kid, and kids make mistakes. I guess this situation will show other kids that you have to make good decisions at all times or something like this can happen to you.”
Pritchett said Witchett was absent from school on Wednesday but that the two talked over the telephone. “I feel very bad for Zack … he was very disappointed because he really wanted to go to Georgia. His heart is at Georgia and he has always been a fan of Georgia.
“It’s his dream school, and I know he must feel like his dreams are shattered right now. Hopefully he can bounce back with another school.”
Witchett has been committed to Georgia since last June. Pritchett said several colleges, including Appalachian State, had called about his player by Thursday morning.
“I’m sure there are some schools that are going to pick up on him because he’s a good talent … he has just got to get himself together,” Pritchett said. “Hopefully, it will all work out well for [Witchett] in the end, and he will bounce back and learn from this experience.”