Earlier this week, thanks to another off-field incident, Georgia lost a defensive back. A couple of days later, UGA has reportedly gained a player in the same position group.
While nothing has been confirmed, Dawgs247.com is reporting that safety J.R. Reed has decided to transfer into first-year head coach Kirby Smart‘s program. Reed comes to Athens by way of Tulsa, where he spent his true freshman season in 2015.
Because of NCAA transfer rules, it’s expected Reed will have to sit out the 2016 season. He would then have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.
Reed was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in Plano, Texas. He played in 13 games last season, and was listed as the co-starter on Tulsa’s depth chart exiting the spring this year.
Reed is also the cousin of Deangelo Gibbs, the No. 2 recruit in the state of Georgia for the Class of 2017 who has the Bulldogs as a potential future home.
For the second time this year, a Georgia football player arrested multiple times has seen his time in Athens come to a premature end.
In a press release, first-year UGA head coach Kirby Smart announced that Chad Clay (not pictured) has been dismissed from his football program. While no specific reason was given, the freshman defensive back was reportedly arrested Wednesday for theft by taking.
In April, Clay was arrested and charged with second-degree criminal damage and possessing a weapon in a school zone following an incident that allegedly involved a BB gun inside a dorm room. Both of those charges are considered felonies in a case that’s still pending.
“Unfortunately, Chad will no longer be a part of our football program” said Smart in a statement. “It is very disappointing, and we wish him the best in his efforts to continue his education.”
Clay was a three-star member of the Bulldogs’ most recent recruiting class who enrolled early. The cornerback participated in spring practice.
In November of last year, Chauncey Rivers was one of two UGA football players arrested on misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. In December, Rivers was again arrested on a marijuana possession charge. Five months later, following yet another arrest that involved, you guessed it, Mary Jane as an accomplice, Rivers was dismissed by Smart.
Jeffery Simmons caught what many considered an undeserved — and wholly unacceptable — break from Mississippi State Thursday. A day later, the five-star 2016 signee caught a break from his conference for good measure.
In April of last year, the SEC voted to ban member institutions from accepting transfers who had been disciplined for serious misconduct at his previous school, with that defined as sexual assault, sexual violence and domestic violence. As the SEC wrapped up its annual spring meetings Friday, and as had previously been expected, the conference announced that it will be expanding that policy to include “dating violence, stalking or conduct of a nature that creates serious concern about the safety of others.”
Additionally, the expanded policy will require schools to perform background checks on any transfer before they are permitted to practice or play with the team. Those checks are expected to satisfy what’s described as the SEC’s “minimum due diligence expectations.”
However, the new policy still only applies to transfers; incoming freshmen are not subject to the policy. That, though, could change, especially in light of the Simmons situation in Starkville.
“I can envision a continuing dialogue that looks at what we’ve done on serious misconduct relative to transfers, and the question will be asked is that sufficient?” commissioner Greg Sankey said. “Should we remain there? That doesn’t predict outcomes, but I envision that will be a conversation topic going forward. But I never anticipated that we were done.
“This conference has been wrestling with the issue, and it’s not easy. I hope people can appreciate that. It’s not as if this is done in a sterile environment, and I think that’s an important conversation. I said that last year, and I’ve said that this year. There’s a point at which the legislation concluded for this week, and we’ll see what the future might hold without prediction.”
Rumors have been swirling throughout the off-season, but CBS made the news official on Tuesday by announcing Verne Lundquist will step down as the lead voice of the network’s college football coverage — primarily the SEC, but also Army-Navy and the Sun Bowl — to be replaced by Brad Nessler after the upcoming season.
“Verne has set the standard for college football broadcasting,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. “Together with Gary Danielson he has played a key role in making the SEC on CBS the highest-rated college football package in America. After an incredible 17 years, he will be handing the reigns off to Brad, who in his own right is highly acclaimed and respected as one of the premier play-by-play broadcasters in the business. I am very pleased that Verne will still have a prominent role in our college basketball and major championship golf coverage. We are fortunate to have one more football season to appreciate Verne’s one-of-a-kind storytelling as we pave the way for a seamless and smooth transition to Brad.”
Lunquist will continue with the network covering college basketball and golf, but will cede the college football chair in what was certainly a contract bullet point to lure Nessler away from ESPN.
“Being a part of the SEC on CBS since 2000 has been the most significant assignment I’ve been given in my more than five decades in this business,” said Lundquist. “Now, it’s time to step back and take in the aroma of those tulips, those roses, and those daffodils that friends have been telling me about for years. In 2017, I’ll happily step aside from college football and welcome Brad to the booth. I’ve known Brad for more than 30 years and have always admired his work ethic and his on-air presence. He shares the same passion for college football that I do. The SEC on CBS is in great hands. Brad and Gary will form a great partnership in the years ahead.”
Nessler leaves a plum gig at ESPN, where he, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe called the ESPN Saturday primetime game and one of the two College Football Playoff semifinals each of the past two seasons.
“Verne has been a friend for over 30 years and someone I’ve always looked up to in this business,” said Nessler. “I’m not replacing him as it would be impossible to replace Verne. I am truly honored to carry on where he leaves off and work to maintain the standard of excellence he has set calling the SEC on CBS. I am excited to rejoin the CBS Sports team this season and look forward to working alongside Gary again in 2017.”
A year ago, the SEC adopted a rule banning its member schools from accepting transfers who were disciplined at their previous institution for sexual assault or other forms of sexual violence. The rule came about after Alabama accepted a transfer from Georgia defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor, whom Mark Richt dismissed after he was arrested for domestic violence, only to see him again be arrested for domestic violence in Tuscaloosa. Chalk that entire episode up as just another way Nick Saban has changed the way the SEC conducts business.
Now the league is considering expanding the ban to other forms of misconduct in advance of its annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla.
According to the Athens Banner-Herald, a student-athlete working group has recommended expanding the rule to “bar transfers who were convicted of, pled guilty or no contest to a serious misconduct felony.”
“The rule that was passed at the last spring meeting was a first step,” SEC associate commissioner for legal affairs and compliance William King told the paper. “I think commissioner (Greg) Sankey made that clear from the beginning that this was a first step and that the conference would revisit the rule.”
The Big 12 and Pac-12 adopted similar rules to mimic the SEC, and it’s likely this policy will only see stronger teeth considering it was his practice of accepting players with violent pasts from other schools that led to Art Briles‘ eventual ouster.
The rule removes the incentive for coaches who fear that dismissing troubled players will only see them on the opposite sideline a season or two later.
SEC schools are expected to conduct background inquiries into all transfers, and a loophole exists for schools to appeal to the conference’s executive committee. Many believe the rule banning transfers will eventually apply to incoming freshmen as well, though that does not appear to be on the table for this year.