Ten@10: Attrition continues in Georgia’s secondary

Neither Rico Johnson (19) nor Brendan Langley (4) will be playing in Georgia's defensive backfield after this seasoon. Langley, a five-game starter at cornerback, has decided to transfer.

Neither Rico Johnson (19) nor Brendan Langley (4) will be playing in Georgia’s defensive backfield after this seasoon. Langley, a five-game starter at cornerback, has decided to transfer.

THE TEN AT 10:

1. In case you missed last night’s late-breaking news, Brendan Langley informed Georgia of his intent to quit the team and seek a transfer. That will officially end two of the more curious years one will ever see of a fairly highly-touted prospect whose career got off to such a fast start.

The 6-foot-1, 181-pound Langley was a 4-star recruit coming out of Marietta’s Kell High School. He chose Georgia over more than a dozen major scholarship offers – including every SEC school — largely because of the availability of playing time and acute need for defensive backs.

Sure enough, Langley ended up starting the first four games of his career at cornerback. It was an indoctrination by fire as Langley went up against receivers for Clemson, South Carolina and LSU. After getting some tough lessons from Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, Langley gave way to Shaq Wiggins and did not start again his freshman season.

This past spring, Langley was surprisingly moved from defensive back to wide receiver. But he never really caught on as a wideout and was moved back to defense midway through the season.

Langley came through for the Bulldogs again on defense as he started against Missouri in a 34-0 in just his second game back on that side of the ball. But he didn’t start the next week against Arkansas and gradually was phased out of Georgia’s defensive plans altogether. He did not play at Saturday’s regular-season finale against Georgia Tech.

Langley met with coach Mark Richt on Monday and asked to be released from his scholarship. Where he may end up is not immediately known.

Freshman Dominick Sanders, who started every game this past season, leads a young group of DBs coming back for UGA next season. (UGA photo by Phillip Williams)

Freshman Dominick Sanders, who started every game this past season, leads a young group of DBs coming back for UGA next season. (UGA photo by Phillip Williams)

2. Langley’s loss continues a run of attrition in the secondary for Georgia.  He’s the fifth defensive back casualty for the Bulldogs this season and the ninth going back to last year. Freshmen Rico Johnson (medical hardship) and Shattle Fenteng (shoulder) were lost to injuries, freshman Shaquille Jones was dismissed after a shoplifting arrest and junior Sheldon Dawson left the team in September due to a lack of playing time.

As one might expect, that leaves the Bulldogs precariously thin in the defensive backfield. Heading into the postseason, Georgia is now down to 13 DBs on scholarship, including seniors Damian Swann and Corey Moore. Suffice it to say, that position is a recruiting priority for 2015 and ’16.

As it is, the Bulldogs are getting a lot of contribution from young players. Freshman Dominick Sanders has started every game and has now settled at free safety, fellow freshman Malkom Parrish has emerged as a regular and redshirt freshman Aaron Davis has started nine games.

Help is on the way. Georgia already has six DBs committed for the 2015 class, including 5-star safety Rashad Roundtree of Evans.

3. Richt was quick to dispel any notion that he might be a candidate for the Nebraska job.  Richt’s name quickly surfaced as one of the favorites to replace Bo Pelini after he was fired on Sunday. He even drew some odds as a prop bet in Las Vegas.

The Omaha native who grew up as a Cornhuskers’ fan shot down the rumor when asked about it on his radio call-in show

“I don’t know where that stuff comes from,” Richt said with a laugh. “Maybe it’s because I was born in Nebraska, I don’t know. But Georgia’s our home. We love it. This is where we want to be. This is where we want to win championships. This is where we plan on getting it done.”

Wide receiver Chris Conley passed up on UGA's offer to sing the National Anthem before the Charleston Southern game. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Wide receiver Chris Conley passed up on UGA’s offer to sing the National Anthem before the Charleston Southern game. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

4. If Loran Smith would’ve had his way, we would have seen and heard more of Chris Conley this season.

No, the Bulldogs’ famous sideline reporter and resident historian was not second-guessing the coaching staff. Smith just happens to be one of Conley’s biggest fans, and he wanted to show off his talents BEFORE the Charleston Southern game on Nov. 22.

Smith confirmed that he went to Richt and to Athletic Director Greg McGarity with a request to allow Conley to sing the National Anthem prior to kickoff. Both men approved the plan – but Conley did not.

“He said no,” Smith told me on Monday. “He thought it would be drawing too much attention to himself and might be a distraction for the team.”

But Smith thought that might have been overridden by the positive press the multi-talented would bring to UGA.

“Could you imagine what (ESPN’s) SportCenter would have done with that?” Smith wondered.

We’ll never know. Conley graduates this year.

5. UGA officials confirmed one thing that was evident at Sanford Stadium on Saturday:  Not many Georgia Tech fans were there to witness in person their team’s feat.

Georgia provided approximately 7,000 tickets to the Yellow Jackets, as per contractual agreement. The Georgia Tech Athletic Association returned 3,300 of the tickets soon thereafter, then another 1,600 in recent weeks.

So about 5,000 of Tech’s tickets were returned. Georgia turned around and sold those to the general public.

Some of the absence can be blamed on fall break. UGA students were also dismissed eight days before the game and did not return to class until Monday. As a result, they turned in 2,000 tickets themselves.

Again, UGA was able to redistribute them, and Saturday’s game was a sell-out.

6. Saturday’s loss to Georgia Tech was not costly just to Georgia. It was also costly — literally — to the SEC.

Had the Bulldogs beaten the Yellow Jackets, they would have been in line for an “access,” or major bowl (formerly known as BCS bowl. A lot of projections had Georgia going to either Chick-fil-A Peach or Orange Bowls, which are part of the College Football Playoff rotation. That would have come with a $4 million guarantee.

Mississippi State’s loss to Ole Miss also will cost the conference some bucks, as will a loss by Missouri to Alabama in Saturday’s SEC Championship game.

According to a report on FoxSports.com, each team in the playoff receives $6 million for the conference and each team in an “access bowl” earns $4 million for the conference, so the SEC could have been looking at a $16 million payday. Now Alabama is the SEC’s only hope for the $6 million playoff spot.

Mississippi State likely will still receive an access bowl bid and a $4 million payday. Georgia’s hopes of an access bowl were effectively extinguished with its loss to Georgia Tech, so no $4 million payday there. Missouri make an access bowl with a win over Alabama but would be unlikely to make its way into the CFB playoff.

As FoxSports reports, the best-case scenario is the SEC sends Alabama to the playoff and Mississippi State to an access bowl, which would earn $10 million total for the conference.

Sophomore guard J.J. Frazier stood out for the Bulldogs in New York City (AP photo)

Sophomore guard J.J. Frazier stood out for the Bulldogs in New York City (AP photo)

7. Georgia’s men’s basketball team returns to action tonight in a rare road game at the gym of a non-major opponent. The Bulldogs (3-3) are playing the Chattanooga Mocs at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga.

It’s a tough assignment for UGA, which is coming off a disappointing appearance in the NIT Preseason Tip-Off tournament in New York City last week. The Bulldogs lost both their games in Madison Square Garden, 88-76 to Gonzaga and 66-62 to Minnesota in the consolation game this past Friday.

There were some highlights for Georgia, however, starting with the play of sophomore guard J.J. Frazier. The 5-10 reserve tallied 26 points and set or matched career highs in minutes played (33 vs. Minnesota) and 3-point shots made (4 vs. Gonzaga). All three of Frazier’s points came during second halves, when the Bulldogs rallied to make up double-digit deficits.

The Bulldogs also got a 23-point effort from guard Charles Mann against Gonzaga and the fifth career “double-double” (14 points, 10 rebounds) from senior forward Marcus Thornton against Minnesota.

Coach Mark Fox’s team returns to Stegeman Coliseum to take on Colorado on Sunday at noon.

9. In the meantime, Lady Bulldogs coach Andy Landers recorded another milestone victory this past weekend, and he did it in storybook fashion.

Landers

Landers

Georgia’s 74-51 win over Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tenn., was the 850th of Landers’ career with the Bulldogs. Landers becomes just the seventh men’s or women’s college basketball  to record 850 victories at a single Division I school. The other coaches to reach that milestone are Pat Summitt (1,098 wins at Tennessee), Jim Boeheim (953 wins at Syracuse), Mike Krzyzewski (916 wins at Duke), Geno Auriemma (882 wins at Connecticut), Dean Smith (879 wins at North Carolina) and Adolph Rupp (876 wins at Kentucky).

To top it off, the victory came at  Landers’ alma mater. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tennessee Tech in the 1970s and met his wife there.

“Let’s make sure we get the record straight,” Landers said. “These aren’t my wins. They belong to a lot of people. I’ve been at Georgia for 36 years so, yeah, that piece is mine. But the wins, the first one in 1979 all the way through tonight, those belong to a lot of people other than me.”

The No. 22-ranked Lady Bulldogs (7-0) play host to Coppin State tonight at Stegeman.

10. This & That: For what it’s worth, Georgia Tech senior guard Shaquille Mason and junior defensive back D.J. White were named ACC co-offensive lineman and defensive back of the week, respectively, on Monday. Mason helped pave the way for 399 yards rushing for the Yellow Jackets and White had the game-clinching interception. … Former Georgia swimmer Andrew Gemmell won the Perseverance Award on Monday at the 2014 USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards at the New York Marriott Marquis after taking an open-water gold medal in 2014 Pan Pacific Championships. … UGA golfer Lee McCoy has accepted an invitation from the USGA to participate in a practice session for the 2015 Walker Cup. The session will take place Dec. 17-20 at Frederica Golf Club on St. Simons Island, Ga. The 45th Walker Cup will be held Sept. 12-13, 2015, at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England. McCoy ended the fall ranked third in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. He leads the Bulldogs with a 68.89 scoring average and finished first, second and fifth individually in his three fall events. … UGA junior Brittany MacLean was tabbed the 2014 OMEGA Female Swimmer of the Year, according to an announcement by Swimming Canada. The award recognizes the best performance by a Canadian swimmer at the premier international meets of the year. A native of Etobicoke, Ontario, MacLean claimed five medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships. MacLean was the NCAA Swimmer of the Meet after winning the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle at the national meet and leading the Lady Bulldogs to their second straight team title.


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