Breaking News: Oliver done at Georgia

ATHENS – A Georgia defense already shaky from a disappointing effort in spring practice took a devastating blow Thursday with the announcement that senior cornerback Paul Oliver will be academically ineligible this fall.

Oliver is still eligible for school but did not meet NCAA qualifying standards when spring semester grades were finalized, ending his collegiate career. He plans to enter the NFL's supplemental draft in July.

Oliver, who could not be reached for comment, considered skipping his senior season for entry into this spring's regular NFL draft but decided to return for what could have been an All-America season. Oliver knew he was on the academic borderline when he decided to return, Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school.

"We'll miss him for sure," Richt said. "He was aware there could be risks, but he decided to continue in school and get closer to his degree."

Jere Morehead, Georgia's faculty athletics representative, declined to comment on Oliver's situation but said, in a general sense, it's tough to blame the athletic department's academic support staff in cases like these.

"The student-athletes are getting all the help they need, but students make choices," Morehead said. "They have to take advantage of the opportunities that are provided them. (The support staff) is going the extra mile to help our student athletes, and I'm sure Coach Richt would agree with that statement."

Richt meets weekly with an academic counselor to discuss the progress of his players, Morehead said. Athletics director Damon Evans recently enacted a stringent set of academic guidelines that penalize athletes monetarily and with suspensions for missing class and/or tutoring appointments.

"We have dramatically expanded the academic support facilities in the past year," Morehead said.

Oliver had 57 tackles and three interceptions last year and drew national attention when he held Georgia Tech All-American wide receiver Calvin Johnson to just two catches for 13 yards in the teams' meeting in November. He finished his Georgia career with 94 tackles, seven interceptions and two sacks.

Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez praised Oliver this spring.

"He's just Paul," Martinez said. "He comes ready to work with his lunch pail every day."

Oliver's absence leaves sophomore Asher Allen as Georgia's starting cornerback opposite Bryan Evans headed into fall practice. Allen, 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, played in all 13 games last year but does not have a career start.


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