ATHENS — The short but tumultuous Georgia football career of Tray Matthews has come to an end.
The rising sophomore safety was dismissed from the team, head coach Mark Richt announced Tuesday.
“We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right,” Richt said.
The rising sophomore safety announced the news via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.
“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.”
In a brief phone conversation, Matthews did not elaborate on why.
“I’m leaving. I can’t really talk about that right now. But all I can confirm is I’m leaving,” Matthews said.
Two other members of Georgia’s secondary last year have already transferred to Louisville: safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and cornerback Shaq Wiggins. Matthews was recruited heavily by Auburn before enrolling at Georgia before the spring semester of 2013.
Richt spoke to reporters at the Peach State Pigskin Preview event at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame earlier in the day, and Matthews did not come up. Last week Richt expressed optimism in Matthews, saying he thought the player was “on a turning point of maturing some and becoming a very dependable guy. I’m not saying he is a dependable guy, or has been at this point. But I have a feeling that that’s his desire to become that. And he needs to. It’s time.”
Matthews started six games last year and played in two more. He missed the rest with a nagging hamstring injury. In March, Matthews was one of four players on charges related to double-dipping scholarship checks. One of the other players, receiver Uriah LeMay, has already departed the team and has transferred to Charlotte.
Matthews, LeMay, James DeLoach and John Taylor are due to be arraigned in Athens-Clarke County court Thursday.
This is the third defensive back with starting experience (Harvey-Clemons and Wiggins) to leave the program this offseason, and another (cornerback Brendan Langley) has switched to receiver. Throw in safety Connor Norman, who was a senior last year, and Georgia has now lost a total of 31 starts in last year’s secondary.
The Bulldogs still have rising seniors Damian Swann (started every game last year at cornerback) and Corey Moore (started seven games). New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has also expressed optimism in the incoming recruits, including safety Shattle Fenteng and cornerback Malkom Parrish.
Richt was asked in general about the secondary in Macon on Tuesday.
“You know what, I think we’re going to find four guys — or five guys if we’re in nickel — that’ll play good,” Richt said. “Even a year ago, I think Jeremy started a couple true freshmen. Three of them played a lot on that defense for Florida State last year. So if guys come in and do what Coach says, and they have the athletic ability to do it, I think we’ll be fine.”
On the same day that Georgia saw one player leave, it received a commitment from another one.
Linebacker Juwan Taylor committed to Georgia on Tuesday, about four weeks after receiving an offer, according to 247Sports.com.
Taylor is rated a three-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite. He also had offers from Arkansas, Clemson, Cincinnati, LSU and Tennessee.
This is the ninth commitment for Georgia’s class of 2015, six of whom are defensive players and another (highly rated Terry Godwin) is an athlete.
Georgia has one defensive back committed thus far: Rico McGraw, a four-star prospect from Nashville, Tennessee.