With his football team set to begin spring practice, Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked in early March what he expected out of veteran tailbacks Washaun Ealey and Caleb King.
"We need to see them prove that they can hold off the young pup coming in," Richt said.
Four months later, Ealey and King have faltered their way out of the program and left the door wide open for touted freshman Isaiah Crowell potentially to start Sept. 3 when the Bulldogs face Boise State in Atlanta. Ealey was granted an unconditional release in May and has transferred to Jacksonville State, and King was declared academically ineligible for the fall semester Friday.
King also missed last season's Liberty Bowl due to academics.
"It's unfortunate Caleb will not be with us this season," Richt said in a prepared statement. "We wish him the best in whatever he decides to do. However, we have to move forward, and this will provide more opportunities for others to step up."
Those others are now Crowell, ESPN's No. 1 tailback nationally in the 2011 signing class, redshirt freshman Ken Malcome and redshirt junior Carlton Thomas. The 5-foot-7, 170-pound Thomas rushed 64 times for 272 yards last season and scored two touchdowns.
King signed with the Bulldogs in 2007 out of Greater Atlanta Christian as the No. 8 tailback nationally according to Rivals.com. After redshirting in '07, the 5-11, 217-pounder rushed for 247 yards in '08, 594 yards in '09 and 430 yards last season, when he not only missed the bowl but two midseason games after failing to appear in court to address a speeding ticket.
His highlights include rushing for 166 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-24 win at Georgia Tech in '09 and a two-touchdown game earlier that season at Vanderbilt when he was returning from a fractured jaw. He rushed for 100 yards last season at Colorado but had a costly fumble that sealed the 29-27 loss.
King played in 29 career games and made 10 starts, and he had 255 career rushes for 1,271 yards.
On his Twitter account Friday, King said that there are some things you can't control and that what seems bad right now might turn out to be good. A release from Georgia's athletic department stated "King indicated he will consider the options available to him before making a decision on his future plans."