ATHENS, Ga. — Fans were waiting for Georgia to release a post-spring depth chart to find out who the front-runner for the vacant starting quarterback job would be. What they got was a stunning announcement Sunday that redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Mettenberger was dismissed.
One month after he was arrested in Remerton, Ga. (within Valdosta) on charges of underage consumption of alcohol and possession of false identification, the school released a brief saying that Mettenberger had been dismissed from the program due to a violation of team rules.
Head coach Mark Richt had said throughout the spring that Mettenberger would face a minimum of a one-game suspension for the arrest, but he never set a specific timetable on when the quarterback might return to action. Georgia sports information director Claude Felton confirmed Sunday that the dismissal did not stem from a new incident involving Mettenberger. Felton said Richt informed Mettenberger of the decision Sunday and was unlikely to make further public comments about the situation in the near future.
While the dismissal means Mettenberger’s career at Georgia will end without him playing in a game, it also means the competition for the starting quarterback job in the fall will have a much different look than was expected.
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Mettenberger was the most likely challenger for fellow redshirt freshman Aaron Murray in the race to land the starting job, and the battle appeared to intensify after last week’s G-Day game that wrapped up spring practice. Mettenberger completed 6 of 10 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the game, while Murray struggled, connecting on just 8 of 19 passes for 96 yards and an interception. Logan Gray, the third quarterback in the race, was 10 of 17 for 132 yards and a touchdown.
With Mettenberger gone, Murray would appear to have the inside track on the starting job in the fall, with Gray still a legitimate candidate. Lassiter High School quarterback Hutson Mason is scheduled to arrive in Athens in June with the rest of the Bulldogs’ incoming freshmen to add another name to the depth chart.
A graduate of Oconee County High School in Watkinsville, Mettenberger redshirted last season but had made impressive strides in the past year and posted the best scrimmage stats of the spring. Following his arrest in early March, however, he was barred from any contact with media.