The one that got away

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’m coming around to the belief that the biggest story about Georgia’s 2014 recruiting is going to turn out to be Kendall Gant’s.

Gant, as many of you are aware, is the Florida defensive back whose longstanding commitment to Georgia was terminated this week, essentially by mutual arrangement, due to academics.  Carvell talked to Gant’s coach and got the gory details.

“It was either Thursday or Friday of last week. I was sitting in on that meeting when McClendon told him. He basically said because Kendall hadn’t passed the test yet, they were going to have to take that scholarship and give it somebody else because they couldn’t afford to wait. They needed to make sure they filled their needs at the free safety position. That was the first I heard about all of this. I said ‘He’s fixing to take a trip to Marshall, and Marshall has the (NCAA partial qualifier) program. All he has to do is deal with what he’s supposed to do. He’s on campus, and they’re going to be involved with him the whole year. But at Marshall, if he passes the test, he’s there to go on the first day. And if lines up and he wins the job, he starts at Marshall.’”

Georgia doesn’t take partial qualifiers.  Marshall does, which makes for a pretty simple call if you’re a kid who doesn’t want to go the JUCO route.  And Gant clearly doesn’t, according to his coach.

“He didn’t make a final decision about that trip until after the communication we had with Georgia. Marshall offered him a trip because we have another kid committed there. Kendall wasn’t sure what he was going to do until after his conversation with (McClendon). Again, that was the first time I had heard they were going to pull the offer, and give it to somebody else even if he gets his two extra points and passes the test. He would still have to go to JUCO, and (Gant) didn’t want anything to do with JUCO because you’ve got to have a 2.5 core and an associate’s degree – and Marshall gave him an out on that. They said, ‘We’ll sign you. If you don’t make it, we’ll prop you. If you make it, you’re going to line up and compete for a free safety spot.’”

Gant and his coach (“It will always be on my mind. I will always have that question mark there.”)  are clearly disappointed by Georgia’s decision not to hold a spot open, and on a certain level I can certainly understand that.  But I’ve also got to say as somebody who’s shaken his head more than once over the way this staff has handled roster management in other classes that I welcome what appears to be a more clear-eyed, or hardass, depending on your point of view, approach to signings.  Gant’s coach talks about the possibility that his player eventually makes his test score, but that’s a hope, not a guarantee.  If things don’t work out academically, that means Georgia’s left a slot open in a class that’s not going to be a large one.

Not only that, but Gant would then be left with the JUCO option that sounds very unappealing to him.  I’m not saying Georgia’s done him any favors, since he wanted to be in Athens, but there’s something to be said for honesty, particularly if the kid has a legitimate option in Marshall.  It’s either that, or Georgia goes down the oversigning trail, something Richt has no appetite for doing.

What I don’t know is whether this is a one-off call, based on the staff changes, or whether it heralds a different approach in Richt’s recruiting philosophy.  Georgia seems to have approached signing day more aggressively this year than in years past, but, again, it’s hard to say how much of that is due to the change at defensive coordinator and short-term talent evaluation.  I hope it indicates that Richt has finally grown as tired of leaving money on the table, so to speak, as most of us have, and that the days of dressing less than 70 scholarship players on the in-season roster are behind the program.  We shall see.

35 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

35 responses to “The one that got away

  1. reipar

    I had the same thoughts when I read this story yesterday. I hate it for the kid and understand why he and his coach would be upset. At the same time I am glad to see UGA filling its slots and not leaving open scholarships on the table. I guess the only thing I would have changed is to tell the kid earlier. Of course compared to other programs I am really getting nit-picky with that thought.

  2. Hard to fault either party here, and I’m glad UGA was up front about it all. The kid may not have gotten what he wanted, outright, but he didn’t get screwed either.

  3. TennesseeDawg

    Bottom line is the kid should have taken care of his classwork.

    • Agreed, and I think when it’s all said and done, the coach knows that too. It’s human nature for there to be hurt feelings in these situations, but his coach even acknowledged that Gant had dug himself too big of a hole academically.

      I wish Gant the best though, hope he gets his academics in order and goes on to a great career.

    • Dawgfan Will

      I have to agree. I teach high school, and I can attest to the fact that students nowadays get A LOT of extra chances and A LOT of tutoring (especially seniors), but they have to take advantage of it.

  4. The other Doug

    The coach never says whether the recruit knew he had to qualify. He only says it’s the first time the coach heard it.

    • Kriebelec

      When a kid is at risk, it’s one of the first things that gets discussed. The coach is either being dishonest or is not doing his job well.

  5. It really is a matter of taking care of your business in the classroom. Even the chance of sanctions for low graduation rates are enough to make coaches think twice about a player and his academics. Essentially, this kid only needed a 2.0 and a qualifying test score to be accepted. The NCAA works off a sliding scale, so the higher the GPA, the more room for error when taking the ACT or SAT. http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_center/Quick_Reference_Sheet.pdf . Here in lies the problem. HS players & sometimes coaches spend time focused on the GPA side of things and ignore how hard earning a 1010 SAT (math + critical reading) can be. Schools aren’t playing around with the academic side of things anymore unless the kid is complete world beater. The player & his coach can look no further than themselves for the blame here.

  6. We have a few scholarships in reserve for these floating kids that do the whole hat ceremony right? There must be a group of kids that are on the edge waiting to see what happens with these all-stars or if other signees jump ship at the last minute. I don’t understand why UGA wouldn’t just put him in the edge category and tell him if we have one remaining you can have it, but you know you have to make your test score.

  7. Russ

    I don’t know this kid and it’s a shame this has happened. However if Marshall is his fall back school, how much are we really losing? No offense to Marshall, but wouldn’t Auburn, Tennessee or LSU be on this kid if he was that good?

    • Marshall is his fall back school not because of his number of stars, but because it still takes partial qualifiers.

      • Russ

        I get that but there was no way the usual suspects wouldn’t take him and say everything will be fine? I just believe given the track record of the other schools they would’ve taken him given his abilities. Do none of them take partials?

        • DawgPhan

          SEC basically doesnt allow partial qualifiers.

          “Now, the SEC allows non-qualifiers on campus, but does not (and can not) allow them to practice, compete or receive athletically related aid.”

          So he couldnt go to anyone in the SEC just like he couldnt come here on a partial.

          • Russ

            Thanks. Makes since. I just figured some of our SEC brethren would find a way around it….sort of like signing 8-10 over your scholarship limit.

  8. Will Trane

    It happens. Move on. No big deal. There are legions of players. Good one, but academics are important.
    Super Bowl after thought. Only watched 1st quarter and stopped. Game was over. Travis Jones’ guys were lights out.

  9. Will Trane

    Watching and listening to the boards. Think Dawgs will do good. Anxious for the other D staff hire. Think he is there, but will wait until latter part of week for announcement.
    Super Bowl. Someone told me Harvin took back 2nd half KO to the house. Everytim I hear his name, this come to mind. Renee Curran. He could track Harvin down.

  10. PTC DAWG

    Good luck to the kid!

  11. Scorpio Jones, III

    I thought we were allowed, by the institutional will folks, to take a limited number of partial qualifiers.

    Guess not, or maybe the “no JUCO” stance was part of the problem.

  12. W Cobb Dawg

    Nothing (yet) says Gant has to sign a LOI today (signing day). He can simply wait til his finals are in, get his (passing) test scores, and sign with a school later – say before summer workouts or fall camp. If history is any indicator there will be plenty of attrition at UGA and many other schools.

    • AmericusDawg

      Agreed. Plenty of kids sign way after the official LOI day. If he gets his score(s) up then there will be a multitude of options for him if he is a “playa.” And UGA may be one of them. But like kriebelec stated above … The player and his coach need to look no further than themselves for the blame for his/their situation. If he really ends up in dire straits then maybe he should think about playing at UNC (snark intended).

  13. Always Someone Else's Fault

    A classmate of mine had basketball scholarship offers to 4 SEC schools. His guardian persuaded him to go to Marshall because she felt that Marshall would look after him all 4 years. He blew out his knee sophomore season while leading the NCAA in scoring average. Graduated in 4 years.

    If it’s still the same sort of administration up there, he should be in good hands.

  14. Macallanlover

    I am in agreement with the general sentiment here, tough situation that neither side seems to have wanted. Have to put your big boy pants on and make the call. UGA is being up front with him, but it was his shortcoming on grades, something he controlled, and he still has the option of waiting until late in the day or even later this week. If we really still want him, and he wants to play in the SEC, he should wait a few days. If he goes to Marshall, good luck to him, I am just glad it didn’t fall to one of our SEC competitors as happens in other cases. I fully support our over signing position and agree the scholly is too valuable to waste.

  15. Derek

    Saban would have signed him and if he made the score he would have found a medical redshirt candidate.

    While I was posting this it occurred to me that the medical redshirt process at bama is like the “bring out your dead” scene in Holy Grail. The player is saying “I feel fine. I think i’ll go for a walk.” Saban:”you’re not fooling anybody.”

    • Always Someone Else's Fault

      Reggie Lewis felt fine. So did Hank Gathers. If the medical people feel that a player is going to pay for a year or two of SEC football with some sort of lifetime condition – knee, back, whatever – then he needs to sit but stay in school.

      A lot of fair questions about Saban’s “roster management,” but medical schollies in general should be happening more, not less.

      • Derek

        My comment was not to suggest that all MR’s are BS. Its just that ones saban uses are. Besides you can keep a guy on full scholly and not practice or play him: see Albert Hollis, Antonio Sims, etc..

        • Always Someone Else's Fault

          Why would you keep a guy as one of your 85 counters if he isn’t going to play or even practice? That makes no sense at all. Medicals are full scholarships. They even retain access to athletic department medical resources, training, food, etc. It’s everything but a spot on the roster. Where’s the problem?

    • section Z alum

      absolutely right about Saban.

  16. Athens Townie

    Very hopeful that the last lines in this post are coming to be. Like many other UGA fans, I’m tired of seeing our program operate at a disadvantage vis-a-vis SEC oversigners.

    Not that we’ll ever oversign like our competition does — and definitely not saying that we should — but at least we can end the practice of undersigning.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      We are who we are…accept it or spend your adult years grinding your teeth to no good purpose.

  17. Gravidy

    I don’t see any shame in this. At all. How can Georgia be blamed for not holding open a scholarship past signing day for a kid who hasn’t qualified? I only wish UGA had been doing this all along.

    Since I’m not a recruitnik, I’ll ask the group here. That article made it sound like they offered “his” scholarship to another safety. Who did they offer it to?

  18. Hackerdog

    I think it’s better for Gant to make arrangements before signing day than for him to be scrambling in July. Good luck to him.

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