ATHENS – The hits just keep coming for the Georgia Bulldogs.
For the second time in as many days, a player informed coach Mark Richt he was unhappy with his role on the team and is seeking a transfer.
Marc Deas, a redshirt sophomore safety from Kissimmee, Fla., has decided to quit the team due to lack of playing time and is seeking a transfer, Richt said Saturday. Deas joins junior defensive lineman Derrick Lott, who made a similar decision less than 24 hours earlier.
“It was really an almost identical situation,” Richt said. “[Deas] felt like he wasn’t going to get the opportunity to get the kind of playing time he was hoping for at Georgia. I think both kids love Georgia, and we love them. They just didn’t feel it was going to happen for them during the time frame that they were here. So they decided to move on and go where they feel like they’re going to have a better chance of playing. That’s their choice to make.”
Their choices came on the heels of news earlier this week that at two of Georgia’s star defensive players – linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo – are facing multiple-game suspension after failing a UGA-administered drug tests. Alan Ingram, Rambo’s coach at Seminole County High School, confirmed that Rambo is expected to miss four games due to marijuana use and said as many as five UGA players, includingOgletree, flunked surprise post-spring-break drug screenings arranged by the athletic association.
Richt and Georgia officials have refused to confirm or deny those and other reports, but have acknowledged they’re in the midst of “a process that has to run its course.”
Richt insisted Saturday the decisions of Lott and Deas have nothing to do with any ongoing disciplinary matters.
“There was no discipline issue, there were no problems, no academic issues,” Richt said. “They were just looking for an opportunity to play. . . . I’m telling you that straight up.”
Georgia has incurred an alarming rate of attrition in 2012. Since the Bulldogs returned from their Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State on Jan. 3, 11 players have either left the Bulldogs, been dismissed from the team or are expected to miss games due to disciplinary suspensions. In addition toOgletree and Rambo, fellow defensive starters Sanders Commings and Branden Smith are also facing suspensions. Tailback Carlton Thomas and cornerback Jordan Love each quit due to a lack of playing time and three other players were dismissed in the wake of a dorm-room theft.
All this negativity is occurring at a time when Georgia is being mentioned as a national championship contender for next season. That’s starting to grate on the Bulldogs’ players that have managed to stay in line.
“We’re going through some stuff and, as a team, we have to work together to solve those issues,” said linebacker Christian Robinson, a senior from Norcross . “We have two weeks left of spring ball and then we’ll have a break. We’ll definitely sit down as a group and lay down what our expectations are as far as holding each other accountable. We have such a great opportunity. We don’t want to throw it away. At this point it’s about grabbing whatwe’ve got left and dealing with it.”
Said senior defensive end Cornelius Washington: “There’s a whole lot of distractions. But, you know, you’ve just got to bring the guys in and tell them, ‘look, you’ve got to eliminate the outside distractions and focus in on what’s most important, which is try to get to Miami next year.’ So you’ve got to keep instilling the idea of what we’re trying to get done around here and just make sure they keep pushing.”
In the cases of Deas and Lott, it doesn’t appear that their losses will profoundly impact Georgia’s ability to compete. Deas (6-foot-1, 197 pounds) had three tackles last season playing mainly special teams. Lott (6-4, 303) appeared in five games in his career and recorded a total of 10 tackles.
But the sum total of the Bulldogs’ attrition is starting to stack up. Including past signees that failed to gain academic admission and players that have had to leave the program for any reason, Georgia is up to 30 players that could have had eligibility for the 2012 season.
“You definitely need as full of a boat as you can have,” Richt said. “You want to make sure you have enough guys out there to do all of your special teams work and everything. But that’s part of the reason we’re making sure that every guy, from the starters on offense and defense down through the scout team, are getting work [on special teams].”