We may never know who was leading in the race to become the University of Georgia's starting quarterback in 2010, but one thing is for certain...the herd has definitely been thinned. This is the reality after the Mark Richt issued a statement Sunday saying that Redshirt Freshman Zach Mettenberger had been dismissed from the team.
Up until today, it had been a three man battle between Mettenberger, Logan Gray and Aaron Murray. As I type this, details are few as to exactly why Mettenberger is no longer with the team.
As we go forward, I have just a couple of thoughts in the immediate wake of the news.
1. Fewer players in the quarterback battle should mean more quality reps for the two main competitors for the job. This may have been the case anyway since Coach Richt had promised to issue a post-spring depth chart that would have set a pecking order for the quarterbacks, but now it is pretty much guaranteed. Hutson Mason will be on campus soon and he will compete, but barring disaster has virtually no chance of seeing the field for Georgia in 2010. From where I sit, I see this as a good thing. More clean reps split between two players that have been in the system for a while gives the DAWGS a better chance at settling on a clear starter prior to the beginning of the season. You always hate to lose a talented player, but this has happened before and will most likely (and unfortunately) happen again. If history has taught us anything, it is that the program is greater than any one player, that Coach Richt has a plan and that Georgia will be just fine.
2. Hutson Mason signing on to join the DAWGS back in February looks like a big pick-up, but Georgia should still look to sign at least one top-tier quarterback in the class of 2011. Like I stated above, the record-breaking Lassiter standout and Marietta native Mason will come in and compete, but unless Georgia suffers a freakish series of injuries at the position he doesn't figure to see the field in the fall. Mason was a late offer from Georgia in the last recruiting cycle. The DAWGS now do not have the luxury of waiting to get in on the nation's top signal callers in the class of 2011. So, it's a good thing the DAWGS are seemingly in good shape at this stage of the recruiting process with at least two of the top prep quarterbacks in the country. Given that Coach Richt has said repeatedly that he likes to have at least three or four quarterbacks ready to go at any point in a season to be comfortable, it would seem imperative at this point that Georgia sign at least one quarterback to avoid a numbers and talent crunch at the position in the future. The reality is that the DAWGS went from having three former Elite 11 quarterbacks on the roster to having two. So, given the track record of how the DAWGS recruit the position, there is no reason to believe that Georgia would pursue anything other than the top talent at the position to fill this need.
Finally, this dismissal of Mettenberger says something else about the Georgia program under Mark Richt. This is the second player dismissed from the team in the past month and in each case, the player in question was not just some guy on the team but a player that was in position to be a key contributor on the field in 2010. I see this as further proof that if Coach Richt feels it is best for the team, he will remove any player or person that is acting in a manner contrary to the standards established for the program regardless of name, position or affiliation. I believe this is as it should be.