Posted: 5:01 pm Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

UGA and longtime DB commit part ways (UPDATED) 

By Michael Carvell

Ex-UGA DB commit Kendall Gant (AJC)

Ex-UGA DB commit Kendall Gant (AJC)

UGA and longtime Bulldogs commit Kendall Gant have parted ways.

The 4-star safety from Lakeland, Fla., switched his commitment from UGA to Marshall on Tuesday, his high school coach told the AJC.

Gant has yet to meet NCAA requirements, and his coach said the Bulldogs informed Gant that he could sign with UGA on Wednesday, but that he would have to enroll next year at a prep school or junior college – even if he qualified at a later date.

“It was the best decision for the situation that he had — That’s pretty much what it came down to,” Lake Gibson High School coach Keith DeMyer said.

“Right now, he’s not a qualifier, and Georgia wasn’t going to wait on him. They were taking that scholarship, and they were going to deal with somebody else with that scholarship.

“It’s just too many if’s. What if I do this? What if I don’t do this? What’s going to happen? There were too many question marks. As much as he wants to be a Bulldogs, and he’s always wanted that, it was going to be a tough decision for him.

DeMyer said he was informed about UGA’s stance by assistant Bryan McClendon last Friday for the first time.

“They were not going to wait on him to pass that test. They were pulling that scholarship, and they were going to give it to somebody else. They said they needed to make sure they were going to fill their needs at that free safety spot. And they weren’t going to sit and wait on him.

“He takes the test this Saturday. If he passes it, it wouldn’t have mattered because they were going to give his scholarship away anyways because he wasn’t a qualifier for Wednesday.”

Gant is the sixth de-commitment for UGA’s 2014 recruiting class. The Bulldogs have 18 commitments and are sweating out things with DT Lamont Gaillard of Fayetteville, N.C. (he’s “95 percent committed to UGA” after taking a visit there last weekend) and WR Gilbert Johnson of Miami (said he will sign with UGA, South Florida or Louisville on Wednesday). The Bulldogs will also add a few players by Wednesday.

Here’s a look at UGA’s Big Board.

Back to Kendall Gant: He’s some more questions with his coach:

How do you feel about that? “I understand that they’ve got to fill their needs but I think it’s pretty (crappy). If you want somebody bad enough, I think you have to wait until that last test in June until you give up. What my thinking was is that they wanted him, but they didn’t want him bad enough. And they felt like they had somebody else that they felt maybe wasn’t as good as him but good enough to deal with.

Gant committed to UGA’s former defensive staff. Do you think this had anything to do with the coaching changes? “That I can’t answer. I really don’t know. All I know is that when (McClendon) told us they were pulling the offer, he said if (Gant) signed on Wednesday, whether he passed it or not, they were going to give it to somebody else.

When you were told this for the first time? “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.’”

Do you think this had anything to do with Gant taking an official visit to Marshall last weekend? “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.’”

Will this situation affect your relationship with UGA on your future recruits? “It will always be on my mind. I will always have that question mark there. We’ve had kids here in the past that made it on the test. We had one people might know about who made it on the last test, and there was one team that waited on him. And he made it, and now he’s in the NFL. That was Bilal Powell, the running back for the New York Jets. Louisville waited on him, and Louisville got him. I don’t know about Georgia. It just surprises me that they pulled his offer. I made (McClendon) repeat the situation two or three times so Kendall would understand exactly what the deal was. He said ‘If you sign Wednesday, that would be great. But we’re going to put you at a JUCO. If you make that test score a week from now, you’re still not going to have that scholarship.’ They basically said they wanted him, and that’s why (McClendon) was here. They wanted him to sign on Wednesday, so he couldn’t sign anywhere else. (Gant) could say ‘I’m a Bulldog.’ But because he wasn’t a qualifier, and they weren’t sure he was going to make it as a qualifier, they were going to give his offer to somebody else that was coming in next week. So even if Kendall made the test score, he would not have a scholarship to Georgia this year.”

What was Kendall’s reaction to that news? “He’s kind of laid back and quiet. His eyeballs rolled a little bit. After (McClendon) left, we stayed and talked for a little bit longer. He understood then. That’s the first time he understood that there was not going to be anywhere for him there – that was the bottom line. That’s when he said I’m taking that trip to Marshall and we’ll see what they have to offer.”

Maybe there an understanding with UGA that Gant had to be qualified by a certain point and time? “No. We’ve had so many late qualifiers that people waited for. They were good enough that if they did make it, it was a plus for their program. If you look back at what Georgia had to say, he’s really saying ‘Kendall is really not good enough for us to sit and wait to get qualified. Or we don’t think he’s going to qualify.’”

Do you think Gant will qualify? “I’ve seen funnier things happen. The bottom line is that now there are 3-4 more tests he can take before the summer, and the last time he took it, he jumped two points. So if the kid is good enough, and you really want him, my thinking is you’re going to wait. And even if you don’t use the scholarship, you’re going to tell me that you don’t have enough people already on your roster that can’t come in and compete for a job at the SEC level? Those are just my thoughts on what we were going through when we were communicating (last week). But anyways, it all worked out. It was tough for Kendall to deal with. He put himself in this position. He finally understood that what you have in hand is better than what could be. The Marshall thing was right in his hands. He knows that if qualifies, he can compete for a job. If not, he’s going to be on Marshall’s campus anyways.”

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

mcarvell@ajc.com

– By Michael Carvell, AJC’s Recruiting Blog

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77 comments
FrankFraticelli
FrankFraticelli

Just another example of  a coach wanting to blame anybody and everybody except the kid and himself. With so many talented players out there that MADE the grade and with every position and scholarship critical on an SEC team, what the heck kind of nut thinks they can hold a top tier program hostage for months while they get their cookies in order? IF he gets his cookies in order? Say what you will - this is not CMR's or UGA's problem - sorry. Nice to know that he can still go to college and get his education and a shot at football. There is no issue here and if there is any blame it falls squarely on the young man, his coach and his family. How many years ahead of time do you need to know what the requirements are and the consequences if you do not meet them? Geez...

kerryb
kerryb

Now what dumb coach would think that a major college football program would wait on his guy like that?  Have you ever heard of Bama waiting on a player like that?  I'm glad to see that UGA is no longer going to do this because it has hurt the program the last several years losing players in June who can't pass a test.  My advise is that if you want the Scholly buckle down and pass the dang test.  Don't cry about it when no one waits for you.

slydawg
slydawg

Most high school seniors wait until May/ June to make a college decision; Sometimes it takes them that long just to qualify and get into the school they want. Why is it any different for athletes? Anyway, I do not see the big deal here other than this "verbal commitment" nonsense. It means nothing and stands for nothing, for both players and schools. Qualified athletes should be able to sign on the dotted line whenever they choose to commit, period. Those who don't "qualify" or want to visit this school or that, should be given all the way until May 15th to 1. Qualify and 2. Make a final decision. The very last thing both athletes and coaches focus on is academics, if we are really being honest here.

dawgs01
dawgs01

This is not UGA's problem.  these athletes are told in middle school that scores matter and if you want to keep playing you better keep your grades up.  when they go to these nike, under armour and all the other camps they go to they get tutorials on how to feel out their paperwork to college and the exact cutoff for grades and test scores to get into college.  this coach should say it is his players own fault.  coaches like this who are yes coaches who tell their stars everything they want to hear do the young man a huge disservice in the long run.  as an athlete you have access to tutors and all kind of help.  these kids are told to take their test early on and to keep taking them.  it amazes me when I see these big time prospects waiting until December to take their test with signing day waiting around the corner.

    If you don't want to blame it on the STUDENT ATHLETE then blame it on the parents and coaches for not staying on their butt about their grades.  This is what is wrong with the world no one accepts responsibility it is always someone else that is screwing them over no you screwed yourself over.  This coach is not helping or seeing the big picture either.  This is in no way ever the Universities fault.  This process is usually these kids first taste of the real world for some of them where their parents cant fix the problem.

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

I would really like to know how many times did he take the ACT's test?

dcole001
dcole001

This is exactly the same thing that Saban does that every one on AJC bitches about. Georgia was going to let him Grey shirt. So the next time anybody brings up the All Mighty Richt they need to remember this. It is a business and if a recruit is not guarantee making in the Fall why waste a spot. Now that you can only sign 25 High School athletes need to understand this..  

St_Simons_he-ne-ha
St_Simons_he-ne-ha

partial qualifier, grades - good luck, let's move on


Unlike the Alabama schools, we have standards

Charlestondog
Charlestondog

If he cannot make his grades, then we don't need him at UGA.  He knew this a year ago.  Sounds like he is not a hardworker in school -- so he will not be a hardworker in football.  Let Marshall have him -- I'm not losing any sleep -- sounds like a waste of a scholarship.  This is nobody's fault but his -- don't blame it on UGA coaches.  


FireSomebody
FireSomebody

What's the problem here?  If he had his score he'd be a Bulldog. Don't be insulted that your player isn't being waited on, Coach.  That's nothing but a judgment call on the part of UGA, dictated completely by the kid not having done his part in the classroom.  Maybe you could have given him a little more guidance in this department over the course of his 4 years under your watch.

BSNBC
BSNBC

Auburn will take him le they do everyone!

TampGator1
TampGator1

@THEBuckeye


Not sure what LSU's entrance standards are for football players.  But they obviously don't keep them on track like Georgia does, or Florida for that matter.  But I am sure their standards are much different that OHIOs.  Ole Miss and Tennessee...a different story.  Both have taken multiple players who failed to meet entrance standards at Florida.  And they jump all over JUCO players who have no shot at staying at Tennessee and Ole Miss for more than one year, academically.  I am sure the Little Ten has its similar teams as well.  But troll on, Buckeye.  You do that well....and boringly as well. 

Chris_Eagle
Chris_Eagle

I feel for the kid, but that's business....

BulldawgRick
BulldawgRick

Wishing Gant the best at Marshall..

Sometime making the grade is not these kids biggest concern at this particular time in their life..

Glad there's an alternative for this young man!

BJohnDawg
BJohnDawg

So bird in the bush for the player but Georgia should wait around for the pie in the sky when another player that has made his grades is available? Think not

59bulldawg
59bulldawg

You know I really hate it for Kendall's sake but maybe his coach should have been a little more of an advocate for the young man's academic preparation if he cares so much. I hope Kendall gets his score and does well at Marshall but it's about time we started thinking about the team first.

itchyz
itchyz

The money quote here:  "He put himself in this position."

BCB
BCB

Michael, How will Bama get to 85?

Fred-D
Fred-D

I have no major problems with UGA handling the situation the way they did; my only issue is that they should have let Kendall know sooner what their bottom line stance with eligibility was.  If you're concerned with the welfare of the kid and not the probability of him signing with a rival, then let him know earlier so he would have a better opportunity to explore other options.

ruffdawg
ruffdawg

Feel bad about the whole matter.....but it let's me know how thin Uga is at the Saf positions and how Pruitt and Co my not be as high on him , as the former...leaving McClendon to do the dirty work ,after all they didn't offer him...CMR needs to be more in tune when it comes too that side of ball... Not just QBs. Go Dawgs!!

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

KitchenCalling 5ptsFeatured
25 minutes ago

UGA coaches should have done THEIR homework earlier and the kid wouldn't have been screwed.


Yeah, it's definitely the coaches fault that he failed to qualify.  smh

RandyHall
RandyHall

KitchenCalling is correct...btw: what does DVH as Director of Player Welfare....does he not monitor grades for present and future DAWGS....or even make sure the players have current Driver's License (many schools make copies of the kids DL's and advise them of the renewal...another person who draws a check @ UGA for non-production (CMR's running buddy!!!)....same thing happened several years ago to LB Kent Turene...come VanHalenger step up to the plate....DAWGS take one step forward and two steps back...CMR time for you to win a NC!!!!    

KitchenCalling
KitchenCalling

UGA coaches should have done THEIR homework earlier and the kid wouldn't have been screwed.

Classof98
Classof98

Michael, what SEC schools admit partial-qualifiers?  Other than Auburn, of course.  I'm certain Auburn accepts them without even looking it up.

GTBob
GTBob

Doesn't UGA have a player or two every year who cant meet minimum NCAA requirements? Do you guys even check the recruits grades anymore?

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@slydawg  

NSD is always the first Wed. in Feb.

If HCs like CMR have a bunch of HS HCs begging them to wait until the last test in June, then you could end up with 6-12 guys waiting on that last test score, and if 8-10 don't get that test score, then you have a BCS level FB program that could lose HALF of a recruiting class with no way to ,make up for that loss.

It is common knowledge that if you want a BCS scholly you need to get your test scores NO LATER than the Fall of your Sr. year, that way a College HC can be sure that you will qualify as long you graduate from HS and can finish that last semester, and if you screw up there then you will only need Summer school to still make it to campus.

It is unfair to the BCS level HC to expect them to wait until June for your player's test score when that player has been told repeatedly (at camps, etc.) to have your score NO LATER than the fall of your Sr. yr.

In this case the College (UGA) is not the "bad guy".

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@dawgs01  

OUTSTANDING POST!

Great commentary since you are the author, not so sure IF someone else had written it!

bulldawg14
bulldawg14

@dcole001 You are dead wrong. Saban grey shirts kids based on their talent level, not their grades. During Saban's tenure, there's been at least a handful of academically qualified kids who did everything right and supposedly had a Alabama scholarship waiting on them, got passed up and legitimately grey shirted because some 5 star recruit decided at the last minute he wanted to go to Bama and took the "lesser recruit's" spot. You are comparing apples and oranges. Richt would never do crap like that. As everyone has stated already, UGA did nothing wrong here. The kid's gotta get his test scores in on time. Welcome to the real world Kendall Gant. I promise you, it only gets tougher from here.

BrownDog
BrownDog

You mean that Alabama school that offered gray shirts to up two longtime recruits this week because of their grades?

The coach is being disengenuous. He knows the deal. Grades need to be in order or schools no longer take the gamble.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@FireSomebody  

He is holding the HS HC accountable here the same way I did, is there a warning coming?

Is there a list of "magic words" to avoid?

Asking why a Recruit didn't take his test on time or why a HS HC didn't advise the player to take the test before NSD is......................??

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@59bulldawg  

Very similar to my comments, questioning the Coach's advice?

Deserving of a warning?

Ghost13
Ghost13

@RandyHall  Just please  explain how  UGA took any steps  back , quit posing .

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@KitchenCalling


You are so full of it!!!!!!!!!!!!


Just how many players should ANY college "babysit"???  He apparently has been taking exams and getting close to passing and just hoping he could slide by without really dedicating himself to get a passing grade!!!


Another possibility is maybe he couldn't pass if he was given the answers beforehand!!!!!! Do you know him personally?????

Ghost13
Ghost13

@KitchenCalling  Sorry for  Gant but  he  screwed himself hard to play football at  a school if you can't  get in.

bulldawg14
bulldawg14

@GTBob  Do you guys even check to make sure your recruits ever even played football? If so, yall had me fooled.

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

@GTBob  I personally think it's a testament to UGA's academic standards...we do have academic standards. If you don't meet them, you don't play.

SteveJobs
SteveJobs

@MikeBanning @slydawg

NSD is the first day a recruit can sign a scholarship offer.  Not the only one though.  He could sign and fax it in later.  It's what Terrelle Pryor did with Ohio State a few years back.  

GTRanj
GTRanj

I thought you were a tech fan and not a mark richt apologist..... Interesting

GTBob
GTBob

@DawgGoneIt Umm, your academic standards are the NCAA minimum academic standards. In other words, you have no standards and do what the NCAA allows you to do.

coj
coj

@GTBob @DawgGoneIt  UGA’s football team had an APR of 973 out of a possible 1,000, topped only by Vanderbilt’s 975 in the SEC. The national average for football teams was 944. Tech's graduation rate was 55% while Georgia's was 65%.

CaliDawg
CaliDawg

@GTBob Stop ignoring the fact that GT has a different curriculum for athletes...it does, it is FACT...no, the GT players are not "smarter". Your argument is tired.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Wrk @GTBob @DawgGoneIt  Actually, in a way, yes.  Marshall is allowed to take partial qualifiers.  uga and GT are not.