The University of Georgia confirmed Friday that starting tailback Caleb King is academically ineligible to play for the Bulldogs this fall.
King, a rising senior, apparently was unable to meet the NCAA’s satisfactory progress requirement for eligibility. Summer semester just ended Friday and grades won’t be posted until next week.
“It’s unfortunate Caleb will not be with us this season,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him the best in whatever he decides to do; however, we have to move forward and this will provide more opportunities for others to step up.”
Coupled with the loss of fellow tailback Washaun Ealey, who transferred to Jacksonville State this past spring, the Bulldogs have now lost their two leading rushers from last season. In all, that’s 1,334 yards in offense and 13 TDs off last year’s team.
King has not returned phone calls, texts or emails seeking comment.
Speculation that King was out at UGA began with King’s own tweets on Twitter.com Friday morning.
First he posted: “Somethings u cant control, and what seems bad right now might turn out good. Too [sic] all of my homeboyz hold UGA down don’t let them brake [sic] u…”
Later he wrote: “I see u when I see u. U cant stress about it Just let God take control.”
Several UGA players replied later with sympathetic responses. But no one at Georgia commented on all the speculation until spokesman Claude Felton confirmed via a phone call Friday afternoon: “Caleb King is academically ineligible for fall semester.”
It remains unclear what will be King’s next step. In its statement UGA said, “King indicated he will consider the options available to him before making a decision on his future plans.”
King’s ineligibility ends a long and tulmutuous career at UGA, in which he has encountered disciplinary and academic suspensions and had brushes with the law.
King also missed Georgia’s Liberty Bowl game against UCF last December. But that was because he had missed too many academic appointments at the Rankin Smith Academic Achievement Center. He was suspended for the Vanderbilt and Kentucky games last season following his arrest for failing to pay a speeding ticket in Walton County. In all he played in 29 of 39 game opportunities. He also missed games for ankle and hamstring injuries and a fractured jaw in 2009.
The Norcross resident was a five-star prospect before breaking his leg his senior season at Greater Atlanta Christian school. He was a four-star-rated recruit when he signed with Georgia to much fanfare in 2007 and redshirted while playing behind future NFL first-round draft choice Knowshon Moreno.
King served as Moreno’s backup in 2008, playing in 11 games and finishing with 247 yards and a TD. He took over as a starter in 2009 and had his most productive season with 594 yards and 7 TDs while sharing time with Washaun Ealey. He was bypassed by Ealey in 2010, playing in eight games with five starts last season and finishing with 430 yards and 2 TDs. He concludes his college career with 1,271 yards rushing, 126 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.
The loss of King and Ealey kicks the door wide open for five-star running back signee Isaiah Crowell and Georgia’s two other scholarship lettermen at the position. On the Bulldogs’ last depth chart, released earlier this summer, King was backed up by junior Carlton Thomas, sophomore walk-on Brandon Harton and redshirt freshman Ken “Boo” Malcome.
King was expected to be Georgia’s starter for its nationally-televised season opener against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on Sept. 3 in the Georgia Dome. Now it looks like there’s a chance that could be Crowell, who was considered the top tailback prospect in the nation last season. If so, Crowell would become the first true freshman to start at tailback for the Bulldogs since Danny Ware in 2004.
Crowell rushed for 1,721 yards on 147 carries and scored 18 touchdowns as a senior at Carver-Columbus High last fall. He was rated a five-star prospect and the No. 1 back in the nation by Scout.com, ESPN.com, and 24/7sports.com.
Thomas, a 5-7, 170-pound junior from Frostproof, Fla., has played in 17 games with one start had has rushed for 364 yards and 2 TDs. He also has 9 catches for 53 yards.
Malcome (6-0, 226) was redshirted last year after coming to UGA from Southwest DeKalb High. A bruising between-the-tackles runner, he rushed for 1,168 yards and 16 TDs as a senior.
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