Georgia commit Rico Johnson, a lightning-quick, 3-star receiver in the Class of 2013, found out Monday that he will not be eligible to enroll in the university—and, obviously, play for the football team—this fall.
Johnson took two online classes this summer to ensure his eligibility and join the school for the upcoming semester. But the NCAA didn't accept those credits, prompting Johnson to send this tweet:
UPDATE: Thursday, July 25, 2:50 p.m. EDT
According to 247Sports, Johnson has committed to Georgia Prep Sports Academy in Atlanta. Per the report:
That means he's now looking to go the prep school route, which could conceivably (though no guarantee of this) allow him to leave at the end of fall semester and perhaps enroll early at UGA next spring.
--End of Update--
A should-be-freshman from Georgia's Swainsboro High School, Johnson appears from that tweet to be loyal to his original commitment. "This is what I have always wanted to do, " Johnson told ESPN.com after accepting his scholarship in February. "I always wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog. This is the greatest feeling in the world."
His new path to Athens will be different than most Bulldog recruits, but it won't be completely unprecedented. Similar circumstances forced blue-chip 2012 linebacker Leonard Floyd away from the program last fall, but now, after a year at prep school, he has joined the Bulldogs as a freshman.
"Right now I am not quite sure what I am going to do, but I talked with Georgia and they gave me a few options," said Johnson, according to Scout.com. He plans on deciding his immediate future as soon as possible.
Though versatile and loaded with potential, Johnson's absence won't have major ramifications for Georgia this upcoming season. Between Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett, Jonathon Rumph and Arthur Lynch, quarterback Aaron Murray does not lack for targets. And with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall in the backfield, it's even less likely they would have needed his versatile playmaking in 2013.
The loss is more noteworthy insofar as it stunts Johnson's development. A season on the sidelines is different than a season lost; he still would have been learning, growing and practicing with the team. But a season away from the program entirely could make it tougher for Johnson to learn the system and impress Georgia coaches next year.
If he does rejoin the program next season, Johnson will have a lot of catching up to do—as will fellow 3-star recruit, offensive lineman DeVondre Seymour, who was also forced away from the team due to academic issues.
Johnson has pledged his commitment to Georgia despite this minor setback, but actions speak louder than words. At this point only hard work, hard work and more hard work will get him back into the program's good graces.