The mass exodus from the Georgia Bulldogs‘ secondary this spring was not welcome news to many people. For some however, it could be a blessing in disguise.
Mark Richt did his best Donald Trump impression and fired a lot of experience and depth in the offseason. Players like Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons frayed the nerves of the coaching staff until Richt’s famous patience was worn thinner than Richie Incognito Twitter apology. Both players were starters and looked upon as difference-makers before they were sent packing
Others evaluated their chances of playing for Jeremy Pruitt and walked away. Cornerback Shaq Wiggins is gone to Louisville along with his divisive attitude and social media accounts of destruction. Brendan Langley, who started several games at corner, moved over to the offensive side of the ball. Langley had some tough times early on, but his impact on offense has been felt and he may have finally found a home for his considerable skills.
Although these players played a large role in a Georgia defense that surrendered the most points in school history, they had a year of experience in the meat grinder. They had seen complicated offensive schemes, dominating lines and some of the best receivers in the nation attack their perimeter. It was not pretty, but as the old saying goes, they would have been “stronger in the broken places.” In other words, they had nowhere to go but up.
Enter the class of 2014. For Shaquille Jones, Shattle Fenteng, Malkom Parrish and Dominick Sanders, those empty lockers are like lights at the end of a shorter tunnel. Playing time is a big selling point for coaches in the recruiting game and these players had to smile somewhat when a large part of their competition walked away. Highly ranked and full of confidence, these players probably reported for duty last week with pep in their steps.
Pundits were already predicting playing time for Parrish and Fenteng before the departure en masse. Now, with Pruitt’s stance that all positions are wide open until further notice, every ballhawk 65 miles east of Atlanta will be fighting to grab the starting spots against the Clemson Tigers. This summer will be a fight to the finish with incumbent players like Tramel Terry, Corey Moore, Quincy Mauger and Reggie Wilkerson.
Whether the new Dawgs will withstand the rigors of the SEC is unknown. The former Dawgs have new homes and are distant, bad memory of broken laws and broken relationships. Hopefully for the Dawgs, the 2014 secondary will have a bigger impact on the field.