Safety Tray Matthews’ brief but troubled time with the Georgia Bulldogs ended Tuesday when he was kicked off the team.
In an unusually strong statement announcing Matthews’ dismissal, Georgia coach Mark Richt said: “We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right.”
Georgia’s announcement came shortly after Matthews, a rising sophomore and a former prized recruit, sent word of his departure to his 12,000-plus Twitter followers.
“I’m sorry UGA family,” Matthews tweeted. “I swear to God I love yal. I’m crying right now but I won’t forget. Love the dawgs. Auburn or Louisville will be my home.”
Matthews’ departure continues an off-season of attrition for Georgia’s secondary.
Twice-suspended safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was dismissed from the team in February, and he transferred to Louisville. Cornerback Shaq Wiggins also transferred to Louisville.
Louisville’s defensive coordinator is Todd Grantham, who held the same position at Georgia the past four years.
Neither Richt nor Matthews disclosed Tuesday what precipitated Matthews’ dismissal from the team.
However, Matthews was arrested by UGA Police in March, along with three other Georgia football players, and charged with misdemeanor theft by deception for allegedly double-dipping school-issued financial-aid checks by cashing them twice.
One of the other players arrested at that time, wide receiver Uriah LeMay, has left the Georgia program, reportedly to transfer to Charlotte. The other two, defensive linemen James DeLoach and Jonathan Taylor, remain on the team. The four are scheduled to be arraigned in Athens on the charges on Thursday.
Matthews, from Newnan, was a highly regarded member of Georgia’s 2013 recruiting class. He was ranked the No. 6 prospect in Georgia and No. 7 safety in the nation by rivals.com. He enrolled at UGA early and made a strong first impression in spring practice last year.
He then played in eight games, starting six, as a freshman last fall. He finished the season — and, as it turned out, his UGA career — with 36 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble.
Richt did not address Matthews’ situation during an appearance earlier Tuesday at the “Pigskin Preview” event at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon. On a different matter, Richt confirmed to reporters there that one member of the Bulldogs’ 2014 recruiting class didn’t qualify academically.
“There’s a young man who is not going to make it,” Richt said.
That UGA signee is wide receiver Gilbert Johnson of Homestead, Fla., according to several media outlets. He likely will end up at a junior college.
Richt didn’t name Johnson but nodded his head affirmatively when asked if the player is a wide receiver. “It’s probably who you think it is,” Richt said.
The rest of Georgia’s 21-member 2014 signing class has reported to campus, except for former Grayson High defensive back Shattle Fenteng, who is finishing up classes at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. Richt said he expects Fenteng to report to UGA in July.