"At the Heart Of Our Problem"

ATHENS - By all accounts, linebacker Marcus Dowtin was the one of the most physically gifted players on Georgia's defense.

He has the size, the speed and the strength to be a top linebacker in the conference, players and coaches have said.

But for all he provided physically, he countered with just as much baggage.

Dowtin constantly loafed in practice, sources said. He could often be seen by the media receiving treatment for random injuries while his teammates worked through fundamentals in the early portion of practices.

"Guys like Dowtin were at the heart of our problem this season," one source said, speaking about Georgia's 6-7 record.

And Dowtin was also a malcontent. He still recorded the fourth most tackles on the team this year, despite splitting time at the inside linebacker postion. But he constantly voiced negative opinions. He was "detrimental" to the "mood and outlook in the locker room," another source said.

Last May, Dowtin was involved in a bar fight in Ocean City, Md. He was questioned at the scene of the crime, but was not arrested. On Dec. 21, a court determined not to pursue charges.

But Dowtin's troubles were not in the clear. He failed to report the incident to coach Mark Richt and the Georgia staff.

This set in motion the chain of the events that ultimately led to Dowtin seeking a transfer this week.

Georgia quickly granted Dowtin's wish.

Richt knew of Dowtin's negative influence on the team, one source said, "Because when Dowtin was having problems, it caused waves on our team."

Attempts to reach Dowtin by phone were unsuccessful.

However, in September Dowtin vented his frustrations to the media over a lack of playing time.

"Yeah, I would say I feel like (the coaches) don't trust me," he said. "What their reasons are, that's between them."

Coincidentally, Dowtin's close friend, safety Nick Williams, asked and was granted a release from the team earlier this month.

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