With regard to roster management, Dorothy, we’re not in Mark Richt’s Kansas any more.
Kirby Smart didn’t seem worried on Wednesday when asked about the team’s potential numbers crunch. The direct quote: “We’ll be fine with the 85.”
And that was about an hour before it emerged that graduate transfer kicker David Marvin was on the way this fall, expecting to receive a scholarship. The media didn’t know about that yet, so Smart wasn’t asked, but no doubt he knew about that, and still felt “we’ll be fine with the 85.”
That would be, for the uninitiated, the NCAA’s scholarship limit of 85. A reminder: Georgia doesn’t need to be at or under the limit until the summer begins and the new recruits enroll. What that means: There’s going to be attrition between now and then.
Based on what is publicly known, Georgia is now probably committed to 89 scholarships for the 2017 season. It signed 26 players, and Marvin’s scholarship would make it 27.
As closely as Smart managed the recruiting numbers, you have to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he says he’s comfortable sliding in under the 85-man limit. Which isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of moving parts to be managed between now and August.
This of course is a relatively hard count that doesn’t include walk-ons who have been on scholarship. The exceptions are Frix, as noted, as well as senior Aaron Davis, who came to school as a walk-on but long ago was put on scholarship, and has been such a key player that it’s hard to see him being anything but a scholarship player.
There’s obviously the Rodrigo Blankenship situation. If you were under the belief that eventually a scholarship would be found for Blankenship, then the Marvin news throws a giant wrench in that. Fullback Christian Payne is also a walk-on, and would have a good case for getting a scholarship. But only if there’s room.
If the above numbers are right, then Georgia is four over the limit. How does it make room? Smart pointed out that “you’ve got guys who are graduates who may transfer.” That includes Davis and John Atkins, but they’re in line for major playing time and there’s been no inkling they’ll leave. Other players are set to graduate this summer, and they include Ramsey and Wilkerson, for what it’s worth.
Some incoming players could always not qualify. But more likely it will come down to players leaving because of playing time. That could happen prior to spring practice, or players could wait to evaluate their situation after spring practice.
Say goodbye to the feel good era of handing out short-term scholarships to a half-dozen or so deserving walk-ons at a time. The numbers simply aren’t there. And there may be a few more kids than usual moving on to other opportunities as the summer draws nigh.
Enjoy the sausage making, peeps. If you don’t want to see your team field a short-handed roster, it’s what they’ve got to do.