September 28, 2011

One leaves, one stays

What has been the subject of Internet scuttlebutt for about a week became official Wednesday - cornerback Derek Owens and running back Ken Malcome have asked for and been granted their release from the Georgia football program.

Head coach Mark Richt confirmed the decisions after practice.

"Derek will be transferring from Georgia," Richt said before giving the news on Malcome.

"(Malcome) walked into my office just prior to practice and felt he had gotten so far behind in the competition at his position that he felt he needed to go to another school to get a fresh start and maybe get a better opportunity to play," Richt said of Malcome, a redshirt freshman who had fallen to fifth on the depth chart at running back behind former walk-on Brandon Harton.

His only game this year came against Coastal Carolina, a contest which saw him carry the football one time for zero yards.

Owens played in Georgia's first three games, making two tackles on special teams. He did not play against Coastal Carolina and did not travel to last week's game at Ole Miss.

Neither Owens nor Malcome could immediately be reached for comment.

ESPN had reported that Owens would seek a transfer to Cincinnati, but Richt said he did not expect that to be the case.

Owens and Malcome become the 14th and 15th players to leave the Bulldog program with eligibility remaining since the end of last year.

So why did they leave?

"What happens is young men - and I'm talking in general terms - we all kind of know this, but most everybody we recruit was one of the best players on their team, if not the best player," Richt said. "Just by virtue of the fact that they were that talented and showed up, they were going to play. I'm not saying that's the case, because there are a lot of guys with tremendous work ethic, but whether they work hard or don't work hard, some guys are just flat out better."
"Then they get into a situation where they get around other athletes like themselves and you've got to compete. Learning how to do that is very difficult sometimes. Some guys will see the mountain as too hard to climb and then go somewhere else. That's fine, if that's what is going on. I want all these guys to get the opportunity to play; I want all these guys to get their education, but I also think there's value in fighting for your job."

Richt said it's not unusual for players to sometimes feel that way.

"I'll never forget David Pollack coming to me as a freshman during camp. He was down, I can't do anything right, Coach (Rodney) Garner is all over me and I think I might have made a mistake. I don't know if I can play here," Richt said. "Pollack is the most decorated player in the history of Georgia football and he had those doubts, too. It's hard. It's hard to compete at a level which you've never had to. I'm not saying, it's not like the guys are bad kids at all, but sometime it comes as a shock to them, so instead of fighting they choose to move on."

Injury update

Offensive lineman Chris Burnette did not return to practice Wednesday as originally hoped. His status is doubtful for Saturday's game.

The news appears better on linebacker Christian Robinson, who appeared to be moving well during drills the media was allowed to watch Wednesday afternoon.

"I feel like I can go," Robinson said. "I'd say it's probably 85 percent, but we'll see what the coaches say. I know they're watching film to try and figure out what I can do. I did a lot today and they told me I was looking a lot better."

Also, wide receiver Marlon Brown wore a green non-contact jersey but was running drills with teammates while freshman cornerback Damian Swann (hip flexor) is not expected to play against Mississippi State.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Rantavious Wooten has not practiced with the team since suffering a concussion in last week's auto accident and will not play Saturday.

Crowell feeling no worse for wear

Despite toting the football 30 time against Ole Miss, running back Isaiah Crowell said he didn't wake up particularly sore Sunday morning once back in Athens.

"My wrist was hurting a little bit, but everything else was OK," he said. "I felt fine."

Crowell was seen wearing a wrap on his left hand in practice, but there is no concern.

"Nah, it's all right," he said. "I'm good."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]