GAINESVILLE – Georgia has lost another offensive lineman.
Offensive tackle A.J. Harmon is transferring for “personal reasons,” according to the school.
Harmon, a candidate to start at right tackle, is the second offensive tackle lost since April. Starter Trinton Sturdivant sustained the third torn knee ligament of his college career during spring practice and is out for the season.
“The good news is I think we’ve got enough guys that can line up and play football at a very high level,” coach Mark Richt said Tuesday night before speaking at “UGA Day” at the Gainesville Civic Center. “You’d like to have more depth by now. You’d like to have more guys kind of waiting in the wings for their opportunity.”
Harmon did not travel to the Liberty Bowl in December because he was academically ineligible. The announcement of his transfer came the day after Richt said final grades from spring semester were to be posted.
Richt said he did not expect any more attrition after the transfers of Harmon and tailback Washaun Ealey.
“I don’t,” Richt said. “I expect everybody to be here in the fall.”
Richt would not shed any more light on the reason behind’s Harmon departure.
“No, that’s kind of why you say ‘personal reasons,’ because it’s personal,” Richt said. “I wish him the best. He’s a good kid.”
Richt might have been bracing for Harmon’s departure when he said last week in Greenville, S.C, that senior Justin Anderson was the projected right tackle and that Harmon was a backup tackle.
Georgia’s projected starting offensive line now is Anderson at left tackle, Chris Burnette at right guard, Ben Jones at center, Kenarious Gates at left guard and Cordy Glenn at left tackle.
“It’s going to be an opportunity for someone else,” Richt said. “We have confidence that Justin and Cordy can play tackle. We believe that Kenarious Gates can play tackle.”
The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Harmon played in seven games at Georgia – all lopsided victories. He was a Parade All-American out of Jefferson County High School.
“I have no clues what his plans are,” said J.B. Arnold, who coached Harmon and spoke to him last week. “He basically just called and told me he was leaving the program and that’s basically all he had time to tell.”
Georgia’s depth is thin at offensive tackle, where Brent Benedict and Austin Long are returning from injury.
Benedict sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament and nerve damage in high school. He practiced this spring.
Richt said “the jury is still out on Austin Long right now just because of the injuries and the lack of productivity to this point. I’m not sure that we can say that he’s ready to play.” Long underwent back surgery after arriving on campus and sustained a slight tear to his pectoral muscle this spring, Richt said
Richt said coaches “are gaining confidence” in Kolton Houston, a redshirt freshman from Buford.
If Glenn or Anderson were injured and Gates moved to tackle, Houston would be the “next guy inside.”
Incoming freshmen Watts Dantzler and Zach DeBell are projected to play offensive tackle.
“I don’t really want to rely on the freshmen if we don’t have to,” Richt said.
Notes: Richt didn’t have any heated back-and-forth with a fan Tuesday night like he did in Macon last month when a man questioned Georgia’s offense and running backs coach Bryan McClendon.
“I wasn’t born yesterday, I’ve coached football for 25 years, so I know what the hell I’m doing, OK?” Richt said that night, according to the Macon Telegraph. Richt said before Tuesday night’s appearance that “we hugged at the end and it was fine. He just wanted to give his opinion and I just wanted to let him know I was there.” Richt didn’t know the man’s name, but said “I thought he’d be an Internet phenom by now.” Richt added: “I appreciate the guy’s passion for his team and the program.” And how did Richt’s wife, Katharyn, react to word about the incident? “I told her as soon as I got home,” Richt said. “I probably told her on the ride home. If I just said, ‘I know what the heck I’m doing,’ it wouldn’t have been a story.” He added that “I didn’t prepare mentally and spiritually enough for that night I guess.” … Richt said Georgia hopes to sign “at least five or six” offensive linemen in its 2012 signing class. The team is not planning to sign a quarterback, but he said it also wasn’t planning to in 2010 when it signed Huston Mason. … Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox was scheduled to appear in Gainesville, but assistant Kwanza Johnson filled in instead. Host Chuck Dowdle told the crowd that Fox was hosting “a big-time recruit on campus today, a guy we want real badly.” He may have been referring to point guard Ryan Harrow, who is transferring from N.C. State.