As was highly visible in the media last off-season, a number of Georgia players left the team either by choice or because they were forced before completing their eligibility in Athens. Today, I take a look at what a few of those players did during the 2011 season instead of playing ball between the hedges.
Washuan Ealey, Running Back
Rumors ran wild during the spring that Waushan Ealey was going to leave the Georgia program for Georgia Southern. But after Ealey officially left the program, Southern coach Jeff Monken publicly stated that Ealey would not be coming to Statesboro. Ealey followed in the footsteps of former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and ended up at Jacksonville State University. Wearing #7, Ealey helped solidify a Gamecock rushing attack that led them to a 7-4 record. Ealey had a very good junior year, leading the team with 1082 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and 8 touchdowns. He added 126 yards receiving and one touchdown, giving him 1,200 yards in total offense for the year. Ealey even had a solid game against SEC foe Kentucky. Returning to the site of his 5 touchdown performance in 2010, he rushed for 120 yards on only 16 carries in the 38-14 loss.
Marcus Dowtin, Linebacker
Marcus Dowtin, who would have been a senior for the Dawgs this fall, left the program in January and transferred to play for Terry Bowden at North Alabama. Dowtin was arguably the best player on defense for the Lions this fall. He was named Gulf South Conference player of the week after his first game against Central Oklahoma. He had 9 tackles, forced a fumble, and returned an interception 23 yards. He lead the team with 115 total tackles on the year, including 9 for a loss, 4 sacks, and one interception. Along with former Florida star Janoris Jenkins, the Lions defense helped lead them to a 9-3 record this fall.
Brent Benedict, Offensvie Tackle
Benedict transferred from Georgia to Virginia Tech and sat out the 2011 season because of NCAA transfer rules. Benedict never played a down at Georgia because of a knee injury, but it sure would have been nice to have him on the two deep.
Zach Mettenberger, Quarterback
Many expected Mettenberger to challenge for playing time at LSU this fall, but a solid early season from Jarrett Lee prevented him from seeing the field much. When Jordan Jefferson returned and took back the starter's job, Mettenberger fell to third on the depth chart. LSU will play for the national championship, but Mettenberger had little to do with it. For the season, he completed 8 of 11 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. He will most likely be the starter in Baton Rouge next fall.
Caleb King, Running Back
King was declared academically ineligible during the summer, ending his underwhelming Georgia career. He entered the 2011 NFL supplemental draft but was not taken. He signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings and has remained on their practice squad all season.
The list of others includes Nick Williams, Jalen Fields, Lonnie Outlaw, Dontavious Jackson, Montez Robinson, Derek Owens, and Chris Little. In all honesty, the only players I wish we still had this fall would have been King, for running back depth and pass protection, and Benedict. The others, it is probably better they were not around.