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Bill King

Mark Richt’s incredible shrinking football team

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Shaq Wiggins makes a play during the G-Day game.  (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Shaq Wiggins makes a play during the G-Day game. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

We were in Chapel Hill late last week for my son’s graduation from UNC (he already has two degrees from UGA) when one of his old Athens roommates tweeted the news that Shaq Wiggins was transferring.

It came as a bit of a surprise considering Wiggins provided some of the few brights spots in Georgia’s secondary last season despite some inconsistent play, but then again the news wasn’t really a bolt out of the blue considering new defensive coordinator/secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt started a walk-on over Wiggins in the G-Day game.

That was probably a major factor in his decision to leave, combined with Wiggins not being crazy about a change in technique that arrived with Pruitt. No wonder Wiggins’ dad told the AJC’s Chip Towers that his son is likely to wind up at Louisville, where his former coach, Todd Grantham, is now accepting UGA defectors and castaways.

As it turned out, though, it’s a good thing Mark Richt told fans in Albany Monday night that he’s not afraid of attrition, because the  offseason got even more interesting this week with the news that wide receiver Uriah LeMay is the latest to transfer. That also was not particularly surprising, considering his brother Christian already had left Athens, he was buried on a talented depth chart, and he was probably facing some sort of suspension as a result of the check double-cashing affair.

Uriah LeMay never got to play for the Dogs. (UGA)

Uriah LeMay never got to play for the Dogs. (UGA)

Also, it explains somewhat the news Richt confirmed Monday that onetime starting cornerback Brendan Langley is moving from the already spare secondary to the receiving corps.

One thing’s for sure: Redshirt freshman Reggie Wilkerson’s return from ACL surgery is coming at an opportune time, and those true-freshman defensive backs arriving this summer — Shattle Fenteng, Malkolm Parrish, Shaq Jones and possibly “athlete” Dominick Sanders — certainly will get a shot at competing for a starting position right from the start!

While the loss of LeMay probably won’t be felt this coming season, with all the folks ahead of him in the rotation, the loss of the four-star recruit, who had a pretty good G-Day game, could loom a bit larger in future seasons. Losing Wiggins, however, on top of the dismissal of Josh Harvey-Clemons, means that once again Georgia will begin a season with a lack of experience among its defensive backs.

Looks like Pruitt is going to have an early opportunity to live up to that glowing reputation he brought from Alabama and FSU.

As for the question of whether a half dozen departures from the UGA football team since the end of least season raises any red flags about Richt’s program, I tend to think not. Disciplinary problems like Harvey-Clemons can prove to be a negative influence, and the team is probably better off without having to deal with his recurring suspensions. Most of the other departures weren’t expected to be major contributors any time soon. And, let’s face it, in this Twitterized age, kids tend to be a bit more impatient about playing time and aren’t as willing to warm a bench as in the old days. If they don’t think they’ll see the field much, they look elsewhere.

That’s just a fact of life in college football these days.

BULLDOG BITES

I’m sure the recent NFL draft was a major disappointment for those Aaron Murray bashers who’d been telling us for years that Richt kept the wrong QB when Zach Mettenberger was kicked off the team and that Mettenberger would be drafted well ahead of Murray. But for those of us who appreciated Murray’s hard work and gutsy play during his time at UGA, seeing him drafted ahead of Alabama’s AJ McCarron and LSU’s Mettenberger brought a smile. … Those UGA fans who aren’t completely football-centric have a lot of Bulldogs to pull for in NCAA tournament action this week, as the top-seeded Georgia men’s and women’s tennis teams begin Sweet 16 action at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens and the softball team, which won the SEC Tournament title, enters NCAA play as the No. 4 seed.

Go Dogs!

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

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