Georgia‚Äôs heavy dose of player attrition has spilled over into the regular season.
Tailback Ken Malcome and cornerback Derek Owens, both reserves, are leaving the program, coach Mark Richt said after practice today.
Owens is transferring and Malcome walked into Richt‚Äôs office prior to today‚Äôs practice and informed him he was leaving, too.
Richt said Malcome ‚Äúfelt like he had gotten so far behind in the competition at his position that he felt like he needed to go to another school and get a fresh start and maybe get a better opportunity to play.‚Äù
Malcome and Owens are the second and third players to leave the program in a little more than a week.
Injured safety Jakar Hamilton decided to transfer last week.
‚ÄúAll it‚Äôs going to do is allow us to sign a full boat of recruits again,‚Äù Richt said.
Georgia has had 12 players leave the program since the end of last season not including A.J. Green and Justin Houston, who entered the NFL draft after their junior seasons.
Before the season, six players left and transferred out (Nick Williams, Logan Gray, A.J. Harmon, Brent Benedict, Washaun Ealey, Marcus Dowtin), one was academically ineligible (Caleb King) another did not return for his senior season after dealing with injuries (Tanner Strickland) and another took a medical disqualification (Jeremy Longo).
Richt said the attrition could be attributed to both coaches demanding more and players wanting more opportunity.
‚ÄúMost everybody we recruit was probably the best player on their (high school) team or one of the best players on their team,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúThen they get into a situation where they‚Äôre around other athletes like them and now you‚Äôve got to compete. Learning how to do that is very difficult sometimes. Some guys will see the mountain too high to climb and decide to go somewhere else.‚Äù
Malcome, from Southwest DeKalb High, is the third tailback to depart since last season, joining Ealey and King, but Richt did not close the door on him returning.
‚ÄúIf Ken came to me tomorrow and said `Coach, I lost my mind I‚Äôm sorry and I‚Äôd love to come back and compete here at Georgia,‚Äô I‚Äôd hug his neck and say come on,‚Äù Richt said.
The redshirt freshman had dropped to fifth-string on the depth chart this season behind Isaiah Crowell, Richard Samuel, Carlton Thomas and former walk-on Brandon Harton.
Malcome was bothered by a groin injury and sustained a concussion last season and had trouble staying on the practice field this season.
His only carry this year went for no gain against Coastal Carolina.
Owens had not practiced this week after not playing against Ole Miss. He had two tackles in three games this season after making six tackles last year. Owens was academically ineligible for the Liberty Bowl.
Richt said he wasn‚Äôt sure if Owens and Malcome planned to finish the fall semester.
–Please follow at Twitter.com/marcweiszer