The Georgia Bulldogs arrived in Memphis on Sunday without three players, including tailback Caleb King, who are academically ineligible for Friday afternoon's Liberty Bowl against Central Florida.
King's absence caps a subpar year for the 5-foot-11, 217-pound junior, who missed four games during Georgia's 6-6 regular season. An ankle injury caused him to miss September losses to South Carolina and Arkansas, and he was suspended for October victories over Vanderbilt and Kentucky as the result of missing a court date this past summer to address a speeding ticket.
"We've played some games without him before, and we'll do it again," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt told reporters in Memphis.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to practice this morning at Memphis University School.
Also ineligible for the bowl are redshirt sophomore offensive tackle A.J. Harmon and freshman cornerback Derek Owens. Harmon played in four games this season, the four Georgia won by 25 or more points (Louisiana-Lafayette, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Idaho State).
Owens saw action in all 12 games, mostly on special teams. His biggest play was recovering an Eric Gordon fumble midway through the first quarter of the 41-14 win over the Volunteers.
Harmon and Owens failed to meet the NCAA's requirement of passing six semester hours in order to compete in the postseason. Richt said King's ineligibility is university-related, specifically that he violated class attendance policy as well as academic appointments.
"Caleb had missed his fifth academic appointment," Richt told reporters. "He won't be at the bowl. He won't be here."
All three have a chance to be in good standing by the start of spring practice.
King rushed for 594 yards last season but finishes his junior year with 430. He had 440 yards in his final five games a year ago, including a career-best 166 in the upset win at Georgia Tech.
Though he rushed for 100 yards on 12 carries this season in the 29-27 loss at Colorado, his numbers were overshadowed by a fumble in the final two minutes after the Bulldogs had driven into field-goal range.
DOWN THE SAME PATH?
Georgia tailback Caleb King was ruled academically ineligible for Friday's Liberty Bowl and now has one more year to avoid the career of Jasper Sanks, who played for the Bulldogs from 1998-2001.
Sanks: Parade All-American from Columbus in 1997 who failed to qualify but rushed for 1,047 yards that year at Fork Union (Va.) Military.
King: Despite breaking a bone in his leg as a Greater Atlanta Christian senior, King was rated by Rivals.com as the state's top prospect.
Sanks: On a '98 offense that featured freshman quarterback Quincy Carter, Sanks had virtually no impact with 65 yards on 10 carries.
King: After Injuries led to a redshirt year in 2007, King rushed for 247 yards in '08, with 95 of those in the Georgia Southern opener.
Sanks: Rushing for 896 yards on 177 carries (5.1 per carry) as a sophomore in 1999, including 156 yards in a one-point win over LSU.
King: Rushing for 594 yards on 114 carries (5.2) as a sophomore in 2009 and coming off a fractured jaw to score twice against Vandy.
Sanks: His '99 season was sullied by costly fumbles in losses to Florida and Georgia Tech, though replays showed him down against Tech.
King: Fumbled this year against Colorado when the Bulldogs were in position to pull out a win; whiffed a key block in '08 loss to Florida.
Sanks: After rushing for 352 yards as a junior and 338 as a senior, Sanks was dismissed for the final three games of '01 for violating rules.
King: Suspended two games this year for skipping a court date to address a speeding ticket; academically ineligible for the Liberty Bowl.