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Mark BradleyMark Bradley

With Matthews gone, who plays DB for UGA?

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Guess you've seen this one before. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Guess you’ve seen this one before. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Somebody’s going to play defensive back for Georgia this fall. Question is, does Champ Bailey have any remaining eligibility?

Mark Richt dismissed Tray Matthews from the team Tuesday. Josh Harvey-Clemons got the boot in February. Shaq Wiggins is transferring. That’s three possible starters gone, but what’s truly intriguing is that Matthews expressed via Twitter his desire to play for Auburn or Louisville.

Auburn, as we know, is where Nick Marshall, once a Georgia defensive back himself, wound up playing quarterback and leading the Tigers to the BCS title game last season. Louisville is where Todd Grantham, who coached Georgia’s defense for four seasons, is now working, and it’s also where Harvey-Clemons and Wiggins are headed.

Marshall, as no one will ever forget, threw the pass that Matthews was positioned to intercept/swat away until Harvey-Clemons jostled him and the ball deflected to Ricardo Louis. Three of those four principals are now ex-Bulldogs. Strange world, huh?

Not that Matthews ever did anything in his brief Georgia tenure to stamp himself as irreplaceable. He was arrested on charges of misdemeanor theft by deception this spring. In a statement, Richt said, “We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right.”

Can’t fault a coach for that. And this is why programs get 85 scholarships, not 22. If Georgia’s recruiting is as good as it’s supposed to be, the Bulldogs will find enough DB’s on this roster to make do. (Damian Swann remains as a starting cornerback; Corey Moore started at safety last season; signee Shattle Fenteng was the No. 1 JUCO cornerback.)

If not, so be it. Playing for Georgia should be a privilege, not a right. No matter how many times Richt has to make that point, it’s a point worth making.

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