ATHENS — “Currently, Georgia is not pursuing any of Penn State’s football players. We wish Coach O’Brien and the players the best.”
That statement came from the UGA’s sports communication office to beat reporters a little after 5 p.m. on Friday. It came as a raw statement without any context or explanation.
I happened to be talking to Christopher Lakos, one of Georgia’s associate directors of sports communications, just before the email was sent out. All he could tell me was the release was simply “a message Coach Richt wants to get out about something he’s been getting a lot of calls about.”
You’ll recall that Richt on Monday told reporters covering the annual Greater Atlanta UGA Days event at Cobb Galleria that the Bulldogs would in fact be interested in recruiting some of the Nittany Lions players. The NCAA, in its historic ruling against Penn State for covering up child sex atrocities committed by a former assistant coach, announced that Penn State players would be allowed to transfer anywhere without penalty and that schools would be allowed to openly recruit them.
Here’s what Richt said Monday:
“We do have some space available and if somebody fits a need and they’re excited about coming we would look into that possibility,” he said at the Cobb Galleria Centre. “There may not be anybody. But we’re at least going to explore. … I don’t want people to think we’re trying to load up a bunch of them. It could be zero, it could be one or two.”
One of two things has had to happen since then: One, no Penn State players expressed any interest in transferring to Georgia; or, two, Richt and UGA had a change of heart.
I was skeptical from the get-go about what Penn State might have to offer Georgia. The Bulldogs were recruiting finalist for two of their players, redshirt freshman defensive end Deion Barnes and junior linebacker Khairi Fortt. As we all know, Georgia is pretty well set on the defensive side of the ball. Penn State running back Silas Redd is apparently close to transferring to Southern Cal. Otherwise, it doesn’t appear there is going to be a lot of movement.
It’s late on a Friday and I have somewhere to be this evening, so for now I can just throw it out there for you guys and see what you think about it. The Bulldogs report for camp next week and we’ll start having regular access to Coach Richt and players, so we’ll get more from then later.