ATHENS - Remember how tailback was the most dysfunctional, topsy-turvy position at Georgia? It's time to pass that mantle to the defensive backs.
The news on Saturday was that sophomore Marc Deas was transferring. The stated reason is playing time. And yet with the events of past seven months, it would stand to reason there would be plenty of playing time to be had in the secondary.
Here is what has happened since the beginning of last season:
- S Jakar Hamilton: Elected in September to transfer. (Ended up at South Carolina State.)
- CB Derek Owens: Elected in late September to transfer. (Ended up at Alabama State.)
- CB Jordan Love: Elected in January to transfer. (Ended up at Towson.)
- CB Sanders Commings: Arrested in January on a misdemeanor domestic battery, later suspended the first two games of the 2012 season.
- CB Chris Sanders: Dismissed from the team in February. (Set to enroll at Georgia Military College.)
- CB Nick Marshall: Dismissed from the team in February. (Enrolled at a junior college.)
- CB Branden Smith: Arrested in March on marijuana possession. No discipline announced yet.
- S Bacarri Rambo: Facing four-game suspension as a result of a positive drug test. Appealing to UGA.
- S Marc Deas: Elected on Saturday to transfer.
That's four transfers, two dismissals and three facing suspension.
The good news is the team only lost Brandon Boykin to graduation, and last year only lost Vance Cuff to graduation.
So what's left? Safety Shawn Williams is the only returning starter whose status isn't in question for the opener against Buffalo. Cornerback Damian Swann, who saw playing time as a freshman after being a highly-sought recruit, is also set for increased playing time. Corey Moore, who will be a sophomore, is the favorite to take Rambo's spot the first few games. Devin Bowman and Quintavious Harrow are in line for time at cornerback.
Malcolm Mitchell has been switched to cornerback for the spring, and every departure increases the chances he stays there for at least the first few games. Former walk-ons Blake Sailors and Connor Norman are in line for playing time at cornerback and safety, respectively.
And then you've got that massive defensive back recruiting class consisting of Sheldon Dawson and ... well, that's it.
Keep in mind, however, that Commings, Smith and presumably Rambo will eventually be back. Georgia just needs to survive the start of the season without them. Obviously, though, depth is a major concern the entire season.
I've also been asked about overall scholarship numbers. By my count, Georgia has scholarship 57 players on the spring roster, as well as several other walk-ons who were on scholarship this season. (Guys like Sailors, Norman and Brandon Harton.) And then there are 16 more signees on the way.
So out of the 85 scholarship limit, the Bulldogs are set to carry 73, along with those walk-ons who may or may not have their status elevated again.