You win some, you lose some. And sometimes you lose the ones you won before because you won some other ones. That’s about the best way I can sum up longtime 2017 Bulldog commit Toneil Carter decommitting from Georgia this morning and switching to Texas. Carter, in what I thought was a really classy response to the situation, summed up his feelings:
Carter is an early enrollee, who graduated from high school last week and will start school in less than a month. With the juniors who recently announced that they’ll be returning next year it looks like there just wasn’t room for Carter to enroll in January, if at all. His high school coach told Brandon Sudge that they got the news after Carter graduated. It was apparently Georgia’s decision, not Carter’s.
At the end of the day, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. And two All-SEC birds coming back for their senior season is invaluable. I’d rather have Chubb and Michel suited up and healthy next season than count on Carter becoming a similar back in 2018, 2019, and beyond if forced to elect one or the other.
Still, losing one of the top ten tailbacks in the country is not ideal. Georgia’s only other tailback commit for 2017, Pennsylvanian D’Andre Swift, is planning to take some official visits. If he goes elsewhere, Georgia faces the possibility of going into 2018 with two experienced tailbacks (Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield) and whatever players they can bring in as part of a 2018 class which may be a little tight on scholarship numbers. That’s not enough. I can tell you that twenty months in advance. I’ve seen Kyle Karempelis start at tailback for Georgia. I repeat, three to four scholarship tailbacks is not enough in the SEC.
If Georgia has another tailback lined up better than Carter, I’d love to know who it is. For my money there’s no other uncommitted 2017 tailback on his level except Mississippian Cam Akers, and I would be pretty shocked if Georgia has a strong shot at him. Reading the tea leaves, one assumes that Georgia is confident in Swift’s commitment and just thinks there are other more pressing needs on the roster. I hope they’re right, but I have a bad feeling this may come back to bite Smart in the rear.
What’s more, it’s just a bad look for the program. I think the last guy I remember publicly dealing with this issue was JUCO offensive lineman Joe Blaes, part of that 2007 signing class in which Georgia signed every warm-bodied individual in the Western Hemisphere over 250 pounds with at least one bad shoulder and tried to turn them into a functional offensive line. This sort of thing could have long term, disastrous consequences had Carter been an instate prospect. It doesn’t look spectacular even from three states away. But when you take over a program like Kirby Smart has, and you’re trying to remake a roster on the fly, this is what happens. You miscalculate. Hopefully it won’t become a habit, because this sort of thing has a way of becoming your reputation.
Now, we just wait for the customary new commit to balance out this bad news.