Brent Benedict has been granted an unconditional release by the University of Georgia, Athletic Director Greg McGarity confirmed Tuesday.
The redshirt freshman offensive lineman from Jacksonville is free to transfer to any school of his choosing, and that includes Florida or Georgia Tech or any of the Bulldogs’ bitter rivals.
Such is the athletic department’s policy under McGarity. If a student-athlete is unhappy at UGA, then he’s free to seek happiness elsewhere, he said.
“I bring the same philosophy as we had at Florida,” said McGarity, who was an associate AD for the Gators for 18 years before returning to his alma mater last year. “If a kid’s not happy, we just want him to be happy. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I don’t care where he goes. These four or five years are the supposed to be the best and most important of these kids’ lives and they need to be happy.”
As for Benedict’s depature, McGarity said, “Things just didn’t work out. I’m sympathetic to that. They just need to be in a happy place.”
There’s at least some chance Benedict, a former five-star recruit, could end up back in the SEC East. Florida and South Carolina were among his finalists — along with Notre Dame, Ohio State and Southern Cal — when he chose the Bulldogs in the fall of 2009. Benedict’s father, Ed Benedict, told the Athens Banner-Herald, “I would imagine some of them would take a look at him again.”
McGarity said UGA would not block Benedict’s transfer anywhere.
“It’s the theory of plenty,” he said. “There’s plenty of good ones everywhere. I don’t worry if they go to Florida or Tech and may come back to beat us. You can’t think that way. Life’s too short. [Student-athletes] are our most valuable resource. If they’re not happy here, I want to see them happy somewhere.”
McGarity said the only situation in which he might block a potential would be if he knew there was some kind of tampering by another school beforehand.
Benedict was a five-star prospect before suffering a devastating knee injury that included nerve damage and a required complete reconstruction his senior season in high school. Benedict claimed in March to be “100 percent” recovered from that injury and was medically cleared to play. But he continued to show effects of that injury even in summer workouts.