Recent dismissals, arrest leave Georgia with secondary concerns

The dismissal last week of three Georgia football players coupled with the legal trouble facing Sanders Commings has left put the Bulldogs in a pinch in the secondary.

Initially thought to be a team strength heading into the 2012 season, Georgia’s defensive backfield is suddenly left precariously thin and extremely vulnerable after head coach Mark Richt booted off the team Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders. Including the departure of three other defensive backs since the start of last season — Jakar Hamilton, Derek Owens and Jordan Love all left, allegedly of their own volition — that leaves the Bulldogs with just nine scholarship defensive backs heading into spring practice next month.

Included in that number is senior and starting cornerback Sanders Commings. However, Commings is not expected to be available for at least the first couple of games next season due to his arrest on a domestic violence/simple battery charge last month. Unless those charges end up getting dropped, Commings is likely looking at a suspension of at least two games.

Game 2 is, of course, on the road against pass-happy Missouri. The Tigers return starting quarterback James Franklin, leading receiver T.J. Moe and two other receivers with 20 or more catches from last season. Meanwhile, they added wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruiting prospect, on national signing day.

The Bulldogs will play most of the season with four senior starters — Commings and Branden Smith at the corners and Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams at the safeties. Rising sophomore Damian Swann figures to fill in for Commings. But Swann is likely to be the starting nickelback as well and, as we’ve seen, Georgia probably plays 66 percent of the time in its nickel package.

So which players will be the sixth and seventh defensive backs on the field for the Bulldogs is the real issue here. It will have to come from a group that includes sophomore safeties Marc Deas, Corey Moore and Quintavious Harrow, redshirt freshman Devin Bowman and true freshman and recent signee Sheldon Dawson of Memphis. Georgia also has several walkons in the secondary, including juniors Blake Sailors and Luis Capella and sophomore Connor Norman. But generally if you’re having to play walkons you’ve got problems.

The lack of depth could affect the Bulldogs in other places as well. Branden Smith, for instance, was expected to return kicks and take some snaps on offense. But the Bulldogs might need to weigh the risk of Smith multitasking against the possibility of injury and/or fatigue. They’re going to need Smith to play great on defense next season, first and foremost.

And what about Georgia’s defense beyond this season? Again, all four starters are seniors. Who are the cornerbacks of the future? Are they on campus yet? Are there some 2013 prospects that are good enough to come in and start in the SEC?

Granted, that is a somewhat pessimistic view. As we’ve seen from defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, he has a decidedly NFL mentality when it comes to playing time, keeping his starters in the game for the entirety regardless of time or score. And his very mantra is to put the 11 best players on the field regardless of their declared position. You’ll never hear a coach, particularly that one, say they can’t get it done.

Here’s another thought: Would Georgia dare play Malcolm Mitchell on that side of the ball? The rising sophomore was the Bulldogs’ most explosive wide receiver last season. But he was, after all, considered one of the best DBs in the nation coming out of Valdosta High. Could he play defense even part-time?

All food for thought. It’s not my intention to preach doom-and-gloom for Georgia’s secondary. Again, at full strength and with everybody present and accounted for, there are few defensive backfields in the nation that can compare. But suffice it to say, injuries or further attrition of any sort could spell big trouble for this secondary.

Again, a brief rundown:

LOST DBs

  • S Jakar Hamilton, transfer
  • CB Jordan Love, transfer
  • CB Nick Marshall, dismissed
  • CB/S Chris Sanders, dismissed
  • CB/S Derek Owens, transfer

STARTERS

  • CB Sanders Commings, Sr.
  • CB Branden Smith, Sr.
  • SS Shawn Williams, Sr.
  • FS Bacarri Rambo, Sr.

RETURNEES

  • CB Damian Swann, So.
  • S Marc Deas, So.
  • S Corey Moore, So.
  • S Quintavious Harrow, So.
  • CB Devin Bowman, RFr.

ADDITIONS

  • CB Sheldon Dawson, TFr.

WALKONS

  • CB Luis Capella, Jr.
  • CB Corey Dunson, Jr.
  • SS Autin Herod, Jr.
  • SS Connor Norman, So.
  • CB Blake Sailors, Jr.

321 comments Add your comment

RedandBlackDAWG

February 7th, 2012
12:00 pm

I think UGA will need to pick up 4 DB’s at a minimum for 2013. There are some ones in the state and has offered two Safeties and aCB already.

truedawg

February 7th, 2012
12:00 pm

Defense will never be a big worry as long as Coach TG is there. Oline play and running the ball are still our biggest concerns!! Go Dawgs!!

Captain

February 7th, 2012
12:05 pm

Adversity is everywhere, which means opportunity abounds. I’m not sure Marshall or Sanders were going to earn significant playing time, one thing is for sure, they won’t now. The offseason Strength and Conditioning program will position Swann to emerge and make an impact. Mitchell could make the transition to Defense and do as Champ and take some snaps at WR. Bowman could surprise, Moore is going to contribute.

Won’t do us any good to worry or fret, Coach Richt and Coach Grantham are paid the big money to manage the situation. There’s evidence to support them being quite capable.

DawginLex

February 7th, 2012
12:07 pm

There is a RB/DB at GMC they are looking to possibly sign now. Would have 3 years eligibility left.

also word is Nick Marshall may end up at GMC and be allowed to return to UGA in 2012

stevedez

February 7th, 2012
12:07 pm

i know i’m nervous, injuries are the issue here, just like the o-line

DawginLex

February 7th, 2012
12:08 pm

2013 not 2012

Vince says he'd fire Adam$

February 7th, 2012
12:18 pm

We had secondary concerns before that.

The secondary has been poor against the forward pass. Lost Brandon Boykin back there, too, now for 2012. I already thought the rest of them needed to be replaced.

Vince says he'd fire Adam$

February 7th, 2012
12:25 pm

“Won’t do us any good to worry or fret, Coach Richt and Coach Grantham are paid the big money to manage the situation. There’s evidence to support them being quite capable.”
__________________________________________________________
You mean such as (1) they have lost the last 9 games against teams who ended up in the top 25 ? (2) they have lost the last 7 games against teams who ended up in the top 10 ? (3) they have had 26 scholarship players who were supposed to be playing this up-coming 2012 season, instead transfer out ?

That is hogwash that there is evidence to support that they are quite capable, with all due respect to you as an individual. It is your post I take exception to, sir.

duluthdawg

February 7th, 2012
12:31 pm

hey Vince,

I think you would have to agree that we are heading in the right direction now with good recruiting classes and 10 wins last year. I think we turned the corner already and good times are ahead. The stats that you offer in your post are all about the PAST. The future looks BRIGHT for teh Dawgs!

duluthdawg

February 7th, 2012
12:33 pm

dawginLex, how could Marshall return to UGA if he was dismissed (suspended) this year? I like the idea but just dont understand how that would work.

DawginLex

February 7th, 2012
12:38 pm

Don’t know unless he was the 3rd wheel of the group. Word is GMC wants 1 of the 3 and the assumption is it is Marshall.

Richt hasn’t said he could come back but GMC’s coach alluded to it.

duluthdawg

February 7th, 2012
12:38 pm

thanks Dawginlex!

20oz

February 7th, 2012
12:51 pm

I LOVE the comment about our strength and conditioning program allowing Swann to emerge and make an impact. Am I the only UGA fan that knows anything about this program? Isn’t it obvious that our main problem last year was our strength and conditioning? We looked horrid against the only tough competition in the second half of each game.

Vince says he'd fire Adam$

February 7th, 2012
12:52 pm

You should see what this analysis here, as presented by Chip Towers, looks like for the Offensive Line for 2012. That is an even less-pretty picture – and, especially so, were Chip Towers to have pointed out the loss of Brandon Boykin in the secondary for 2012 because on the OL, it is the loss of 4 senior starters, 3 of whom move on to the NFL and a loss of 4 more OL who transferred out – [using Chip Towers’ words) “allegedly of their own volition.”

I like that Chip Towers, sir.

Allegedly of their own volition, OL transfers who also were given Scholarships for 2012 and now are all gone :

Brent Benedict # 10 OT 4-Star, transfer
AJ Harmon # 10 OT nation 5-Star, transfer
Johnathan Owens # 39 OT
Chris Little OL transfer

Jax Falcon/Dog Fan

February 7th, 2012
12:55 pm

Mark, is there any way you can check into DawginLex’s comments on Nick Marshall? His is one dismissal I would love to see overturned unless, of course, the nature of the dismissal would not warrant a second chance.

Jax Falcon/Dog Fan

February 7th, 2012
12:56 pm

Sorry, I meant Chip, not Mark…..

DawginLex

February 7th, 2012
1:19 pm

ATHENS — Once again, the tiny military college in Milledgeville is worth watching when it comes to former — and possibly future — Georgia football players.
Following last Friday’s dismissal of three freshmen football players, head coach Mark Richt called Bert Williams, the head coach at Georgia Military College. Williams characterized it as Richt just letting him know about the situation.

But GMC has a history of taking in players that either didn’t qualify for Georgia or were dismissed. So Williams admitted he has an interest in a couple of the players.
“There’s one that we will not pursue,” Williams said. “There’s one we may or may not pursue. And there’s one that I definitely will pursue.”
Williams didn’t elaborate or get specific. The highest profile of the dismissed trio is cornerback Nick Marshall, who was a four-star recruit a year ago out of Wilcox County. Safety Chris Sanders also played in three games before getting hurt. Receiver Sanford Seay was considered a fringe prospect who did not play last season.
Williams said he should know something firm “within the next week or so.”
Marshall, Sanders and Seay were dismissed following an incident in which a teammate alleged a theft from his dorm room. The theft involved cash and other items, according to sources.
Richt didn’t indicate to Williams whether Georgia could potentially take any of the players back after spending a year at GMAC.
“There have been players we’ve taken who have left there who have spent time here, gotten right, and either gone back, or if they don’t go back to Georgia, they move on to somewhere else and do well,” Williams said. “We try to work together when we can.”
Meanwhile, GMC is also home to a player that Georgia is thinking of offering a scholarship, possibly as soon as this year. Mario Alford, a running back who could play defensive back, spent the past year at GMC and could transfer immediately to a Division I school and have three years of eligibility, much like Mark Beard, the offensive lineman who enrolled at Georgia last month.
The Bulldogs are now in desperate need for depth at defensive backs, thanks to the dismissals of Marshall and Sanders. Williams said Monday that Georgia has not offered a scholarship to Alford yet.
“But they know about him,” Williams said.
Georgia has signed 15 players from GMC since 1992, most recently safety Jakar Hamilton in 2009.
Hamilton, a safety, left the team last year, and his departure is one of the reasons the team lacks safety depth.

DawginLex

February 7th, 2012
1:20 pm

from macon paper

Just Asking

February 7th, 2012
1:24 pm

I hope we can sign 4 DBs next year (More likely we will need 6) but they will still be Freshmen. Perhaps 1 or 2 could start but there is no way that we get four SEC ready Freshmen in the 2013 class. We had better win it all this year because 2013 will be tough.

1eyedJack

February 7th, 2012
1:29 pm

There is a precendence for that. I remember, not to long ago, a linebacker from up north (Akeem Hebron?) kept getting in trouble and Richt shipped him off to GMC for a year to straighten him out.

reality check

February 7th, 2012
1:37 pm

Mahalo DawginLex. I always think of Dax Langley when I see your post for some reason. Thanks for the great information provided as usual.

GTBob

February 7th, 2012
1:42 pm

Defense will never be a big worry as long as Coach TG is there.

Its pretty amazing that a guy can have one ok season people start to put him on such a high pedestal. Didn’t you guys learn your lesson with Mark Fox?

Kudzu in Right Field

February 7th, 2012
1:50 pm

Let’s talk baseball………Better yet stop talking and go to Foley Field and support our top 20 baseball team.We are less than 2 weeks away from the opener. Stop talking football and go to the game. Go Diamond Dawgs !!!!!

Randy

February 7th, 2012
1:55 pm

With Keith Marshall and Crowell going to have a good year next year. Look for Todd Gurely to get a look at defense.

RNB

February 7th, 2012
2:02 pm

Just another year of UGA football. Getting old going through this every year.

@GTBoob

February 7th, 2012
2:04 pm

No GTBob, only lesson we’ve learned, is no matter how bad things get here, it’s better than where you’re at. P.S. Do you reckon your team will ever win against UGA again? How bout a bowl victory? No, I guess not. I can see why you really don’t like to post on the Tech blogs. LOL

G-Dawg

February 7th, 2012
2:05 pm

“Its pretty amazing that a guy can have one ok season people start to put him on such a high pedestal.”

Much like Tech fans have done with CPJ?? Hypocrite maybe?

Boomer

February 7th, 2012
2:07 pm

Michael Carvell is a UGA shill and propoganda writer. He needs to filing his reports under Chip’s column. The fact he is so blatant and the editors on the AJC allow him to do it is just amazing.

G-Dawg

February 7th, 2012
2:08 pm

RNB..then feel free to jump ship and cheer for someone else. Although this negative publicy sucks…nothing much we can do about it, but focus on those with the program who choose to represent our beloved Dawgs!!

G-Dawg

February 7th, 2012
2:11 pm

“AJC allow him to do it is just amazing”

And how is it any different from your posts? its is just amazing as well!!

ugab

February 7th, 2012
2:18 pm

I am so sick of the CMR era. When is it going to end? Why does the dawgs continue to lack in depth at positions every year? Suspensions, injuries, and transfers are killing the dawgs every single season. Is Saban and other SEC coaches having the same problem every single season as is CMR. WTH

ugab

February 7th, 2012
2:22 pm

We should of signed some of the top DBs and Safeties this class.. Does CMR ever plan for the futre? Every year it is the same ole thing with MR; Well we are going to be this at OL, well we are going to be thin at dbs. etc etc etc. Where is the mentors that cmr promoted to look after these kids. The day that Uga gets a coach with spirit and discipline will the day Uga wins a NC. FIRE CMR

ugab

February 7th, 2012
2:24 pm

FIRE CMR.COM…. JK, MAYBE ONE MORE YEAR WITH EASY SCHEDULE..

Is Grantham...

February 7th, 2012
2:24 pm

the top recruiter they all say?
Prove it then, get on a plane to Arizona and bring Davonte’ Neal back. Neal is the 5th ranked corner for 2012, and plans to announce on Feb 21.

Dawg Haus

February 7th, 2012
2:33 pm

Harrow and Sailors both made very impressive plays on special teams in 2011. If they bring that kind of intensity to the secondary, they could be really good fits at DB.

Moore also seems to be a gamer and Norman deserves a shot based on his performance in the G-Day game alone.

All in all, I think the Dawgs are in good shape at DB, but that will be a huge recruiting need for 2013.

GTBob

February 7th, 2012
2:34 pm

Do you reckon your team will ever win against UGA again? How bout a bowl victory? No, I guess not.

We will beat UGA and win a bowl game at some point. Who knows when, but statistically speaking it has to happen eventually.

jim

February 7th, 2012
2:35 pm

go read more elsewhere…sanders, not marshall.

GTBob

February 7th, 2012
2:35 pm

Much like Tech fans have done with CPJ?? Hypocrite maybe?

Todd Grantham had a bad year and an ok year. If he puts together multiple ok to good years I will give him more credit. Especially if the SEC ever starts playing offense.

LkB

February 7th, 2012
2:38 pm

Strong pass rush can minimize DB deficiencies.

@GTBoob

February 7th, 2012
2:38 pm

Can’t argue that one, blind hog, blind squirrel, etc. My point is, your posts about UGA, are pretty much negative. Now, I don’t read the Tech blogs, but if you are this negative about the direction of our program, how do you feel about yours?

duronimo

February 7th, 2012
2:39 pm

You said something in your article that I found revealing and disturbing. You said Grantham plays his starters all the time, no matter what the score it. I wondering how not substituting is a good strategy?

It might explain why Georgia’s defense is good at the front of the game and goes downhill from there.
Substituting builds depth and rests your starters. Frankly I’m a little shocked but it does explain why the defense can so dominate LSU in the first half and then simply breakdown — same players by they are too worn out to finish the game. Seems stupid.

Foothills

February 7th, 2012
2:41 pm

ugab…The problems are close to being gone from Athens. Just a few remain. I can’t imagine
CMR taking these guys back…doubt they would be gone if it was “alleged”.

JB

February 7th, 2012
2:45 pm

Richt does 7 of 10 things great as a head coach……but is not the whole package as a head coach. Roster selection and management is certainly an area that needs help. Of course, if this was Alabama, Commings would have been brought to Saban and the incidence would of been handled ” in house”

bgness

February 7th, 2012
2:46 pm

Who needs goods dbs when you got a monster pass rush that is always in the face of the qb?

dmr

February 7th, 2012
2:46 pm

At this point, there should be no reason to play B. Smith on offense. If you have Mitchell, Marshall, Gurley, Crowell, Bennett, Conley, Rome, Lynch, Wooten, and Brown, and you cannot find a way to get favorable match ups, then you have no business coaching offense.

That said, the secondary is always a concern, but usually more of a concern if you cannot establish a pass rush. Jenkins, Geathers, J.Jones, Ogletree, Washington, Herrera, and others will provide plenty of push up front. Georgia has all spring to build depth provided there are no injuries.

Todd Grantham will find a way to make the secondary work this season. Georgia will have to do a much better job from now until next signing day going after DB’s, DL’s, and OL’s. Georgia’s offensive coaches will have to do a better job of recognizing how long our defense is on the field and work to control the clock and field position. And for goodness sake, please have a G.A.

20oz

February 7th, 2012
2:46 pm

We will beat UGA and win a bowl game at some point. Who knows when, but statistically speaking it has to happen eventually.

Once a decade it seems… Good luck, but with CPJ’s system in place, GT will never beat UGA again… Better hope they replace him sooner rather than later.

Taco Meat

February 7th, 2012
2:47 pm

Huge concern for the Dawgs. I certainly hope the Dawgs are heavily recruiting at least 2 JUCO DBs for 2013. I think we’ll be fine though. Championship teams find a way.

bgness

February 7th, 2012
2:47 pm

Believe #29 will help out our dbs a bit

dmr

February 7th, 2012
2:48 pm

…finishing thought….have a G.A. track special teams. Number of kicks, from left hash, right hash, middle, out of bounds, where it went out, field goal missed wide left or right. Kevin Butler even made the point after the bowl loss that had we been tracking Blair Walsh’s misses, we would have known to keep the ball on the left hash instead of running it to the middle. Kevin Butler said this. The guy who probably knows more about kicking than anyone.

JB

February 7th, 2012
2:48 pm

Think Hawaii and Sugar Bowl of 2007 to beat Mizziou……He has to have time to throw and receivers time to run routes.