ATHENS - With fall camp just days away, Georgia's football team got some good news today.
Vance Cuff, a defensive back signee from Moultrie, will now be able to join the rest of the Bulldogs freshmen reporting on Friday after the NCAA approved an appeal filed on his behalf by the university. Cuff's status was in question after the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled that an speech and communications course he took in high school was an elective, leaving him short of the required number of core courses. Coaches and administrators at Colquitt County High School argued that the course waslegitimate, and Georgia officials joined the fight last month, filing an appeal with the NCAA.
"We received word this morning that the waiver was approved," said Eric Baumgartner, the school's assistant athletic director for compliance. "The coaching staff is happy, but most importantly it's good for the young man to have this opportunity to prove what he did in high school."
Georgia officials were cautiously optimistic the NCAA would rule in their favor, Baumgartner said. "You never say yes and you never say no with a waiver, but I think academically the course was a very solid college prep course and even could rise to the level of an honors course," he said. Cuff was shocked when he originally learned their might be a problem with his course, hesaid. "When I found out I had a problem with that class, I mean, that wasn't a pushover class," he said. "It was a pretty good little course. The coaches were saying it should get cleared."
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However, after three tries and three denials from the Clearinghouse, Cuff became discouraged, he said. He was making plans this week to enroll at Georgia Military College. Wednesday morning's news "was very nice to hear," he said. "That's a big load off of me."
Cuff now can pack for Athens a second time. Earlier this summer, thinking he would becleared, Cuff attended one day of summer school classes at Georgia before being sent home to wait for official word.
"This time, hopefully, I'll pack and won't have to unpack," he said.
Cuff, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, was rated the No. 30 cornerback in the nation last year byScout.com and No. 16 in the nation by ESPN.com. He caught 35 passes for 457 yards and had two interceptions as a senior. As a junior, he placed fifth in the Class AAAAA 100-meter dash.
Including Cuff, the Bulldogs are expected to welcome 16 new faces when players report Friday. Seven members of their 23-man signing class enrolled early and competed in spring practice. The first practice of the season will be held Saturday afternoon.
NOTE: The team's annual Picture Day will be held Saturday, Aug. 18 at Sanford Stadium.Coaches and players will sign autographs between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Uga will be made available for photos from 1 p.m to 3 p.m. on the 200 level of the stadium near section 213.